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In 1826 this was the site of a famous tragedy that led to a tourist boom in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Hanging behind the main desk at the Conway Public Library is a small painting by a relatively unknown artist Charles Codman depicting the scene of a famous avalanche, known as the Willey slide, that occurred in 1826 about thirty miles north of the library. This painting stands silently at the heart of an almost fifty year mystery, a kind of identity theft enacted by the art establishment. This actual site of the tragedy is sometimes confused by art historians with another site about three miles north. See the clio entry about Thomas Cole's View of the Notch at the link below.


  • Codman painting of the site of the Willey Slide
  • Willey House with attached hotel
  • Willey House and slide

The site of the Willey House has been marked by a plaque. Artifacts and photos from the Willey House are in a nearby museum and visitor center.

Articles on the Willey Slide by Tom Eastman can be found here: https://www.mtearchronicles.com/single-post/2017/01/13/The-Willey-Slide-of-August-1826

The Willey family are buried further south in North Conway. A photograph of the grave site can be found in the Henney History Room of the Conway Public Library at this link: https://conway.pastperfectonline.com/photo/5A6B9558-B6B7-449E-B839-430163600922

The tragedy was the basis for Nathaniel Hawthorne's fictionalized story "The Ambitious Guest" published in 1835.

The Conway Public library has a number of books that cover the subject.

Charles Codman: The Landscape of Art and Culture. Conway Public Library, 2002. https://conway.pastperfectonline.com/library/3632BFB2-18D1-4FE2-AD90-979113142872

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willey_House,_New_Hampshire

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Conway Public Library https://conway.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/0EA8B85C-C471-483B-A8DC-217851263470

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Willey_House%2C_by_Kilburn_Brothers.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Willey_House_and_Slide,_White_Mountain_Notch,_N.H,_by_Soule,_John_P.,_1827-1904_2.jpg