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Margaret A. Baker Diary

 Collection — Box: MISC-03, Folder: MSS-0123
Identifier: MSS-0123

Content Description

The diary of Margaret A. Baker follows her trip by railroad from Portland, Maine, U.S.A. to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The diarist records details of their train travel departing from Portland with a stopover in New Hampshire. She describes the mountains, hotels, as well as other scenes in towns and cities.

The following partial transcription and description was provided by the seller:

"September 23rd, A day to which we had been looking forward with the most pleasant anticipation, dawned bright and clear and 8:50 A.M. found us leaving Union Station Portland on the mountain division of the Maine Central and really on our way to Quebec. We checked our baggage to Cranford's where we are to spend the first night and where we expect to meet our party. 10:50 finds us at North Conway and we soon come to the lower Gateway of the Notch. This wild looking place, although familiar to us both, can never fail to be attractive as well as awe inspiring, guarded as it is by mountain monuments…."

"Just at the upper end of this bridge (The Willey Brook Bridge) stands a house which is called, "John O'Groats." This is the mountain home of the railroad men who are constantly going over and over these mountain tracks to see that there is no defect and thus prevents disaster in these heavily loaded trains. We are just recovering from the dizziness of crossing Willey Brook Bridge when we are upon the trestle which crosses the Great Frankenstein Gulf, which spans a crevasse of 500 feet from cliff to cliff at height of 80 above the wild looking gorge below. It gives one a queer sensation while crossing this trestle where the train seems to be moving in midair…." (They pass "Elephant's Head" a rock formation from the work the railroad did)

"On arriving at the hotel, we find that our room is ready for us. We are soon in it, with our baggage and shortly are ready for dinner. After our hunger has been satisfied, we take a walk and view our surroundings. Just at the door of this famous hotel lies a charming little sheet of water which is the source of the Saco, also the Ammonoosuc River. We are told that the roof of the Crawford is the water shed of the White Mountains and that rain falling on it flows on the east side, into the Saco, on the west into the Ammonoosuc. We walk down to Elephant's Head where the notch is so narrow that it seems hardly possible that a train carriage road and river can pass. On returning we view the site of the old Cranford House on the right, while on the left we see a sign which reads, "The house that Jack built." We walk a little way up a very steep path, but come back on hearing steps. We see we are followed by a queer looking old man, and afterwards learn that he is "Jack the Hermit" also that he would swallow a live frog for a quarter…." (They head back to the hotel and wait for the rest of the party to arrive on the train, watching them from the veranda of the hotel. She then lists the name of the people in the party, 14 of them, including Mr. Charles E. Tripp the manager. Next day they board the train and stop at Bretton Woods Station where the two hotels are: the Mt. Pleasant House and the New Mt. Washington. A fabulous three page description of these hotels, which in part reads:)

"They (The hotels) are both in full view of the White Mts. If the fog will permit one can plainly see the trains descending and descending Mt. Washington. Of course we could only glance at the magnificent furnishings in our hurried trip over these hotels. In the reception room at Mt. Pleasant we remember particularly the beautiful circular window from which one gets such an extensive view of the mountains. From Mt. Pleasant we walk over to the New Mt. Washington and after devious windings and turnings, the walk finally leads us to the largest and most elaborate hotel in the White Mountains, if not America, a perfect example of the extensive progress of this mountain region……As we stepped on the train we took our last glance at the grand old mountains, stepped out of our own door yard, so to speak, and at last are really on our way to Quebec." (At Quebec Junction they change cars)

"As we came upon it in the evening it looked like an immense mountain all one glittering mass of electric lights. To our unaccustomed eyes it looks like some immense carnival but Mr. Tripp tells us we are looking at Quebec. At Levis Mr. Tripp hurries us off the train and takes us to the ferry which is to take us across the river to Quebec. In order to get on the boat, we all have to pass through what seems to be a "turn stile" one by one and on the right as each passed though separately a man called out one, two, three etc……Teams were waiting for us. About 12 of us were hustled into a closed carriage called a "Bus." In the end next the driver was a foul smelling kerosene lamp and we were well right suffocated when we reached the hotel. We rode for miles it seemed to us, over rough pavements, steep streets, through frowning gate-ways, till at length we went through St. Louis Gate and were soon in front of the St. Louis Hotel." (Next a fabulous description of this old historic hotel…..)

"I drew back wooden shutters and looked out. The morning before the great mountains that bent over frowned down upon me as I looked out but what a different view meets my eyes now. Across the little narrow street stands a somber looking building and I see a sign which says, "Mountcalm Hotel." There war two doors facing the street and I read on the one, "Enter from" on the other "Finish at." I take a look out of the window on my left and now am looking on the statuary building which bears the title of "The Duke of Kent" house"….." (She continues on describing her view from the window. They then take a drive around town. There are 4 pages devoted to the Upper town and then she goes on describing the lower part of town…)

"Thus far our drive had been in Upper Town, but now we find ourselves in the streets of the Lower City. It is here that we go through the narrowest street in N. Am. and find here some very strange buildings and some very foul odors. We had to walk through this street as it was too narrow for our carriage to pass. This street is so close to the precipice that on one side the houses come up directly against the solid rock….." (More on that part of town. Back to the hotel where their baggage is transferred to the Chateau Frontenac. This next day they take a train to tour the falls, Beaufort and the Lunatic Asylum, ruins of an old Manor House, finally arriving at Montmorency Falls. Leaving the falls they arrive at the famous Kent House)

"Once seen, Montmorency falls will never be forgotten, dashing down over 250 ft. of solid rock to the river beneath. Two gigantic stone pillars stand like grim sentinels on either bank, sad memorials of an unfortunate event that occurred some century ago. A suspension bridge of faulty construction fell away from these pillars while a man was crossing with his family on their way to town. They were dashed over the falls, never to be seen again. The bridge never was rebuilt but the piers still remain, one may imagine as silent monuments of the sad accident. Now across these piers directly over the torrent, as high again as the falls itself, is stretched a tight rope with a trapeze in the center upon which each afternoon a man comes out and performs……." (It's on to Beaupre' to the Church of Ste. Anne. This section takes up 7 pages of writing. Then back to the Frontenac Hotel with another fantastic description.)

"The Frontenac is a magnificent fire proof hotel operated by the Can. Pune Ry. Co. and stands at one end of an esplanade known as Dufferin Terrace, just below the Citadel. The view is unsurpassed. One can look out on the St. Lawrence as far as the eye can reach, out around to the Isle of Orleans. Across to Levis and beyond up stream to Sillery…..As we go over the hotel we find the most unexpected ways. Rooms that are bow shaped, crescent shaped, circular; rooms that are acute angled, obtuse angled, in fact everything except right angled. And the stairways one finds them in every spot and with their rich crimson carpeting and oak banisters, which almost tempt one to assent or descend just to find out where it leads."

The diary is composed of lined looseleaf pages in an early 20th century 2-ring binder with partial leather covers.


  • 1903


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The collection is open for research use. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the Nebraska Public Records Statutes (Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 84-712 through 84-712.09), and other relevant regulations. Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Nebraska Omaha assumes no responsibility.

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0.02 Cubic Feet (1 folder) : Diaries

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Custodial History

Purchased on ebay on 1/2/2018 from seller diaries.

Margaret A. Baker Diary
Amy Schindler; Angela Kroeger
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Nebraska at Omaha Archives & Special Collections Repository

Archives & Special Collections
Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library
6001 Dodge St.
Omaha Nebraska 68182-0237 United States