This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of what is now known as the Kancamagus Highway, New England’s first National Scenic Byway. When the road, then known as Forest Highway No. 8, first opened in 1959, it was unpaved, not maintained for winter travel, and only open during daylight hours. This last restriction was on account of the treacherous nature of the road and its lack of artificial lighting (a welcome state for anyone who has driven the “Kanc.”). Now, the Kancamagus is paved and maintained year-round, much to the delight of visitors to the area. The highway is particularly popular in the fall, when the New England foliage turns beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. It is also a popular way to see the snow-capped beauty of the White Mountains and Mount Washington while traveling across New Hampshire’s North Country. Whatever the motivation may be, if you ever find yourself in Lincoln or Conway, New Hampshire, you should gas up the car and take the time to drive State Route 112, the Kancamagus Highway.
Anniversary celebrations are planned at various points along the Kanc on August 14, 2009, with an official commemoration at 2pm at the Russell Colbath House. For more information on the festivities, check out the Union Leader article “Marking a half century of riding the ‘Kanc’.”
If you are interested in driving the Kancamagus Highway, Byways.org provides some valuable resources. An overview of the road, including some history, pictures, and directions to get to the Kanc are available here. A map of the route can be also be found here at Byways.org.
To give some idea of the route’s beauty, here are a few shots from my personal collection, taken Memorial Day Weekend 2008: