Text Box: A Brief History of Sunday River
Early Automobiles


The first “horseless carriage” I ever saw was on Sunday, May 14, 1901. It was driven to Ketchum by Billy Hastings of Bethel.  People turned out in force to see the wonder as it crawled along.  Julia Ann (Fifield) Stearns (1842-1909), resident of Riley Plantation


In a 1911 letter sent by a summer boarder the writer mentions that the did not take their pet collie Laddie to  town with them for fear he would get run over by a damned automobile.


Available histories say little (n0ne) about automobiles in Sunday River or when they first appeared.  Much of the travel beyond Bethel depended on the railroad from the 1850’s until reliable, economical automobiles were common family items.


Howell Crosby from Arlington, Massachusetts traveled to the Locke Farm in  Bethel for the first time in 1898. The next year the Crosbys spent summer vacations at the Locke Farm through 1912.

Howell bought his first car in 1908.  In 1909, with a friend who drove, they set out from Arlington to drive to  Bethel. It would have  been a two day trip; however, the crank shaft  broke.  Howell shipped the car to Arlington  (and as far as we know the driving friend went with the car) by train and took a train to Bethel.

In the fall of 1911, Howell bought his second car.  The next summer, Howell, a nephew, Esther Frost, and the driver made a successful trip to Bethel.  Howell, Daisy, his wife, and youngest daughter (age 9) plus driver made it  back to Arlington safely. 

After the Crosby’s bought the Lowe/Atherton place in Sunday River, summer vacations involved at least one auto trip.  In 1919, the trip to Sunday River saw seven people, a victrola, clothes basket, violin and several suitcases packed into  “the big Pierce”.




1919. The “big Pierce” which brought seven people plus a variety of luggage and goods from Arlington to the Crosby’s Red House in Sunday River.

Another auto trip from Arlington to Sunday River.  In the photo left to right, Edward  E. Bennett, Crosby son-in-law, Harold Bennett, and Julian C. Howard, another Crosby son-in-law. 


The auto is a LaSalle and the boat was powered with a 22 h. p. outboard.  On this trip the boat was used at Songo Pond to tow outboard riders. 

In this 1940’s view of the Hastings’ Farm door yard, a fine collection of autos was present for the photographer—a Cadillac, Chevrolet sedan and a Chrysler Air Flow sedan.  The pickup looks like a late 1930’s or a 1940’s model. 

Charles Davis who was the mail carrier between Bethel and Errol, NH hauled mail and passengers through Swan’s Corner in this Stanley Steamer, date unknown.