Frankenstein Cliff – Hart's Location, New Hampshire - Atlas Obscura

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Frankenstein Cliff

Hart's Location, New Hampshire

Rock face that shares a name with Mary Shelley's famous doctor. 


Frankenstein Cliff is not named after who you might think.

Not an uncommon name in Germany, the cliff itself was named after a German immigrant landscape painter named Godfrey Frankenstein who, in the mid-1800s became enamored enough with the White Mountains to treat them as subjects for his art.

Godfrey’s original surname was Tracht, but his father changed it to Frankenstein when they moved to the United States in 1831 when Godfrey was eleven, and fifteen years after the publication of Frankenstein, the novel.

Some speculate that Godfrey’s father changed their surname to remind his family of their home, which was near a castle called Frankenstein at which a “mad” alchemist named Johann Dipple once lived. Dipple and the castle are sometimes claimed to have inspired Mary Shelley in writing Frankenstein.

While it is tempting to look for the “real Frankenstein” (or the real “Dracula” for that matter) it is quite possible, even likely that Shelly simply chose a common German name for her doctor, and had never heard of Dipple or Frankenstein castle.

Regardless of the connection to the novel or its doctor, Frankenstein Cliff is a beautiful part of the white mountains. Located a few miles outside of Bartlett in Crawford Notch it is part of a five-mile trail loop that passes by 200-foot Arethusa Falls and under a railroad trestle also named for Godfrey Frankenstein and over which the Conway Scenic Railway passes. At its highest, Frankenstein Cliff is over 1,400 feet above sea level and is popular for hiking and rock and ice climbing. Adapted with Permission from: The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker

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May 22, 2012

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