"The "Alps of America"" Franconia by gilescorey

Franconia Travel Guide: 17 reviews and 109 photos

The best small town in The Whites

North of "the Notch", and overshadowed by Littleton, Franconia has escaped the gaudy strip motels and gift shops that line other White Mountain towns. Now, sitting at the base of Cannon Mountain, Franconia is seeing an influx of tourists and residents, as that once sleepy ski mountain expands and joins the ranks of New England's most impressive ski areas. Property has become expensive, even in the past two years. But, it is worth it. Franconia has stellar views of Cannon and the Lafayette Ridge, easy freeway access, and a treasure in Franconia Notch itself.

Why "The Alps?"

The Franconia region was nicknamed "The Alps of America", not because of its craggy peaks, but because of its first "ski-immigrants".

Legends of ski-racing and technique were forced out of Austria by the approaching German occupation of the late 30's, early 40's. One forefather of skiing, Hannes Schneider, visited New Hampshire during this period to consider relocating and founding a ski school in the Whites. Story has it that Mr. Schneider was less-than-impressed by the New England peaks, calling them "hills" and "babies" by comparison to his beloved Alps. However, a hike to the top of Mt. Moosilauke(4810') changed his mind, when, upon breaking treeline, the proud Austrian was brought to his knees under the brutal winds and snows - an anomaly of this region caused by a particularly powerful jet stream.

Schneider was impressed, and brought the first ski-school in the United States to New Hampshire. Racing trails were cut on Moosilauke, as well as on Cannon, and the first aerial tramway on the continent was built on Cannon shortly thereafter.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Dramatic scenery, quaint town
  • Cons:Skyrocketing property prices
  • In a nutshell:Classic Mountain Town
  • Last visit to Franconia: Dec 2003
  • Intro Updated Jan 14, 2004
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