A Brief History
The first maples appear on the New England landscape. New Jersey tourists soon follow.
Mass.’ Topsfield Fair, now one of the oldest existing agricultural fairs in the country, opens.
September 7-8, 1846
Henry David Thoreau, with friends, makes his first ascent of Maine’s Mount Katahdin. His finding: “Nature was here something savage and awful, though beautiful.”
The New Hampshire legislature laughs at Sylvester Marsh’s idea to build a railroad up Mount Washington, telling him he “might as well build a railway to the moon.”
Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Autumn Tints,” in which he gushes over the New England foliage, is published in The Atlantic Monthly. “Europeans coming to America are surprised by the brilliancy of our autumnal foliage,” he brags.
July 3, 1869
Sylvester Marsh gets the last laugh and realizes his dream when Old Peppersass becomes the first train to climb to the top of Mount Washington; the Mount Washington Cog Railway is born.
The Appalachian Mountain Club erects its Madison Spring Hut in New Hampshire’s White Mountains; today it’s the oldest hut site in the country.
October 22, 1914
The Mohawk Trail, New England’s first scenic road, opens to cars and, eventually, one Big Indian.
Inspired by fall in the Berkshires, Arthur Tauck Sr., a 27-year-old coin-tray salesman from Newark, N.J., comes up with an idea for a tour business. The next summer, he takes his first customers around New England, charging them $69 apiece. Fall-foliage itineraries are soon added to Tauck Tours’ roster.
The Airstream is invented, and with it a cavalcade of silver tubes motoring at 25 mph along narrow rural roads.
Kodak invents Kodachrome, the dominant color film of leaf peepers in the 20th century.
One down … Yankee Magazine débuts its first foliage-themed cover.
Foliage Fanatics, Part I: Betty Hatch and four others launch the Northeast Kingdom Fall Foliage Festival, now one of the Green Mountain State’s largest autumn events.
Foliage Fanatics, Part II: Harry S. Orr, the man who would come to be known as “Mr. Fall Foliage Festival” throughout western Mass., steps in to help with the Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Festival Parade. Today, a trophy in his memory is awarded each year to the float judged to be the best theme entry.
Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.