Mount Chocorua from Fowler's Mill Road
|Elevation||3480+ ft (1061+ m)|
|Prominence||1,240 ft (378 m)|
|Location||Albany, New Hampshire, U.S.|
|Range||Sandwich Range, White Mountains|
|Topo map||USGS Mount Chocorua|
|Easiest route||Piper Trail
Champney Falls Trail
Mount Chocorua (IPA: /ʃʌˈkɔʊˌɹwə/) is a summit in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. At an elevation of 3,490 feet (1,064 m) it is the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range. Although the range is not outstanding for its elevation, it is very rugged and has excellent views of the surrounding lakes, mountains, and forests. Mount Chocorua's bare summit can be seen from almost every direction and can be identified from many points throughout central New Hampshire and western Maine.
Mount Chocorua is located in the town of Albany and is the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest. The Sandwich Range is located north of the Lakes Region and south of the Kancamagus Highway. The range extends about 30 miles (50 km) east-west from Conway on the Saco River to Campton on the Pemigewasset. Chocorua's summit is a picturesque rocky cone, and the mountain is purported to be one of the most photographed in the world (AMC Guide, page 310). One of the most photographed sites is from Chocorua Lake, which often casts a perfect reflection of the mountain top.
Mount Chocorua is a popular destination for hikers. Although it is under 3,500 feet (1,100 m) in elevation, its bare and rocky summit commands excellent views in all directions. Since most trails begin at much lower elevations, a hike to the summit is a strenuous exercise. There are many trails up the mountain, and they can be quite crowded during the summer months. Especially popular are the Piper Trail (4.2 miles (6.8 km) each way from the east), the Champney Falls Trail (from the north), and the Liberty Trail (from the southwest).
It is believed that Chocorua was the name of a Native American man in the 18th century, although no authentic records of his life exist. The usual story is that in about 1720 Chocorua was on friendly terms with settlers and in particular the Campbell family that had a home in the valley now called Tamworth. Chocorua was called away and left his son in the care of the Campbell family. The boy found and drank a poison that Mr. Campbell had made to eliminate troublesome foxes, and Chocorua returned to find his son had died. Chocorua, distraught with grief, pledged revenge on the family. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Campbell returned home one afternoon to find his wife and children had been slain. Campbell suspected Chocorua and pursued him up the mountain that today bears his name. Chocorua was wounded by a shot from Campbell's rifle. Before Campbell could reach Chocorua, he uttered a curse upon the white settlers and their homes, livestock, and crops, and leapt from the summit to his death.
There are at least three other versions of the legend of Chocorua. One is that Chocorua simply fell from a high rock on the mountain while hunting. A second is the white settlers pursued Chocorua up the mountain after an Indian massacre, and he was not shot at all but simply leapt to his death. The third is that all the white settlers pursued him with guns, pitchforks, and torches. They collapsed of exhaustion as Chocorua reached the top, and the settlers decided to torch the remaining trees up to the summit, and in doing so they burned and exposed the topsoil of the last 1,270 feet (390 m). As the flames drew closer and closer to Chocorua, he cursed the white men and leapt to his death.
Although no one can know the exact words of Chocorua's curse (or even if there was a curse), it has been reported (Mudge, page 34) to be as follows.
"May the Great Spirit curse you when he speaks in the clouds and his words are fire! Lightning blast your crops! Wind and fire destroy your homes! The Evil One breathe death on your cattle! Panthers howl and wolves fatten on your bones!"
Another version appears in the story "Chocorua's Curse", by Lydia Maria Child, contained in The Token (1830):
'A curse upon ye, white men! May the Great Spirit curse ye when he speaks in the clouds, and his words are fire! Chocorua had a son — and ye killed him while the sky looked bright! Lightning, blast your crops! Wind and fire destroy your dwellings! The Evil Spirit breathe death upon your cattle! Your graves lie in the war path of the Indian! Panthers howl, and wolves fatten over your bones! Chocorua goes to the Great Spirit — his curse stays with the white men!'
Among the most notable artists who have painted in the White Mountains was John Frederick Kensett (1816–1872). A painter of the Hudson River School, his Mount Chocorua (1864–66) typifies American Luminism. This important art movement, containing a transcendental realism of the sublime, incorporates an inner illumination of an almost spiritual light (color), expressive geometric effects of composition (space), and the isolation of the American wilderness setting (silence).
Wallace Stevens (1879–1955) mentions Mount Chocorua in stanza XXI of his poem "The Man with the Blue Guitar". It is also the subject of his poem "Chocorua To Its Neighbor".
Most of the events in John Bellairs' novel The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt happen near this mountain.
- "Mount Chocorua, New Hampshire". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
- "Mount Chocorua". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
- Performed on Fred the Cat: Half a Century of Piano Music by Alan Hovhaness, Marvin Rosen, piano. Koch International Classics, 1995. ASIN: B000001SGA
- AMC White Mountain Guide, Appalachian Mountain Club, Boston: Twenty-fourth edition, 1987. ISBN 0-910146-61-6.
- Hixon, Robert and Mary. The Place Names of the White Mountains, Down East Books: Camden, Maine 1980.
- Mudge, John T. B. The White Mountains: Names, Places & Legends, The Durand Press: Etna, New Hampshire 1992.
- Speare, Eva A. ed. New Hampshire Folk Tales, Phoenix Publishing: Canaan, New Hampshire 1974.
- Driscoll, John Paul, and John K. Howat, John Frederick Kensett: An American Master, New York: Worcester Art Museum, in association with W.W. Norton & Company, 1985.