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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Hills

Isn't She Grand?

The Mount Washington Hotel

Snow swirls hypnotically across the windshield as we pick our way through Crawford Notch. And it strikes me... Isn't it odd that we never visit this iconic location in good weather? I suppose "good" is the debatable word. After all, these are the White Mountains of New Hampshire in winter where snow is considered white gold.

Toasty-warm during the picturesque drive north (White Mountain National Forest is approximately 3.5 hours from Boston) I can't help but touch the frosty windows as excitement has me fidgeting. One more turn and the road will widen. Then we'll see her. Stark white and magnificent, tipped with a shiny read roof. Distinct against the bluish-grey of the tallest mountain in the northeast. Our home away from home for a long winter's weekend—the glorious Mount Washington Hotel!

This marvel of modern ingenuity for its time (construction finished in 1902) was built by New Hampshire native Joseph Stickney, a gilded-age industrialist who made a fortune in coal and railroads. He spared no expense, from the steal and granite structure to the heating, plumbing, electricity, woodwork, and furnishings. Wealthy visitors flocked from northern cities to behold its grandeur (see the hotel's link below for more history).

The Great Hall - Omni Mt. Washington Hotel

My first visit to the grande dame—now an Omni resort—was for a ghost-hunting/paranormal event in 2016, hosted by Strange Escapes. The founder of this unusual travel company, Amy Bruni, is best known for her role as an investigator and researcher on Syfy Channel's Ghost Hunters. My daughter and I were Amy's guests on that occasion, along with over one hundred like-minded "escapees," paranormal enthusiasts, celebrities, researchers, and other authors.

The event was exciting, thought provoking, and it marked the beginning of more trips to haunted locations with the group. I highly recommend the experience if you enjoy exploring the unknown in style (see Strange Escapes' link below).

Since then, I've returned to the Mt. Washington Hotel many times with family, friends, and my daughter for another escape. Simpy put, we love the place! Yet what about this place entices us and so many others to return? "It's haunted, you know." I can't tell you how many have whispered those words to me. Followed by, "One time, when we were there..." and ghost stories gush forth. Few mention the luxury accommodations or spectacular mountain views first. It's typically the thrill of other-worldly experiences coupled with the five-star resort. A close encounter with spirit on the way to the slopes or while filling your ice bucket? Yes! However, I'd say it's more.

I've been lucky enough to reflect while writing in the elegant Great Hall or slouched in a wicker chair in the Garden Corridor. Two of my "favorite haunts." For me there's a deep sense of residual history. Feelings...impressions... Pride, joy, sadness, celebration, toil - the essence of past lives. The hotel is haunted, in my opinion, by Princess Carolyn, Joseph Stickney's widow. But also, by those who have worked there and been guests. Souls who've left a mark—good or bad—which imprints on some guest today.

Charles Alling Gifford - architect and builder of the Mt. Washington Hotel

One personal experience is the day I met the architect and builder of the Mount Washington Hotel, Charles Alling Gifford. I discovered his handsome countenance in a portrait, hanging in The Gifford Room, of course. Tucked away in a discreet corner on the main floor, the door to his room was closed, yet I felt compelled to sneak in. I stood before him as seconds stretched into long minutes. Charles Gifford left his mark on me that afternoon, inspiring a character in my Time Traveler's Journey Series. (Allen Whitman, the architect of Highland House) Call me crazy, but it was a profoundly haunting experience when Mr. Gifford stepped beyond the veil to spark a character.

I hope you've enjoyed this tale of my haunted love affair with one of New Hampshire's grandest hotels. Maybe you have your own ghost story you'd like to share? I'd love to hear it!

Please note: This post first aired on Romance Gems, a collaborative blog featuring over twenty multi-published, cross-genre romance authors. Stop by for more fun and interesting posts!

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