American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Samuel Harlow Goodhue, 1922-2006

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Samuel Harlow Goodhue 1922-2006

Sam was recruited by Joe Dodge in 1947 to do “useful” things around the Old Rockpile. Over the span of the next 60 years, that list of useful things came to be an enormous litany of accomplishment. In the days when the Mt. Washington Observatory and the Appalachian Mountain Club were somewhat inseparable—under Joe’s all-inclusive and heavenly mandated management style—it was hard to determine where the one organization left off and the other began. As a good worker, Sam was always in demand, mostly for matters requiring his engineering skills, but always in demand, nevertheless.

Sam did not withhold his opinions, on practically any topic, and never let his arguments become mired with unwelcome fact, or less strong because of any dearth thereof; and, like Joe, generally damned Democrats as being responsible for most of the ills of the State of “Cow Hampshire,” the nation, and the world. Sam’s opinion on the Mt. Washington Observatory, however, evolved over time to the effect that it had gradually become more of a valued institution to the North Country than the Appalachian Mountain Club, which had unintentionally given birth to the “Obs.”

But Sam had given very generously to the AMC, of his time and talents, before it became a staff-driven organization. In time he came to head the Club’s two committees most concerned with North Country activities—Trails and Huts. In those same years, he was contributing most usefully to the Committee on Mountain Leadership. Sam’s barn, shed, and house on Thorn Hill became unofficial storage areas for the materiel (and personnel) pertinent to those committees, and Sam’s foresight led to the construction of the AMC’s newest off-road facility—the Mizpah Springs Hut. But, being a mainstay of the Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, he never let go of his interest in the Old Rockpile, which always had free accommodations at the “Obs” on the summit.

He even managed to get good mileage out of a lot of Army surplus wire that Joe (who never told us which war that wire was surplus from) had obtained for ski patrol communications. There’s probably a good bit of that wire still draped through the scrub and stumps of the Gulf of Slides.

But, the old goat was not immured in New Hampshire’s hills, then or now. After very creditable service in the 84th Infantry Division (Battle of the Bulge—Bronze Star and Purple Heart) he misspent one of his post-War years in Aspen, as that area was in development just after World War II, before graduation from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in engineering. In later years he misspent even more time in the mountains of Western Canada, where he was a party to a lot of backcountry alpine skiing and quests for summertime first ascents.

Sam was enormously proud of his long Yankee heritage, which began in 1638 with the arrival in Ipswich of his tenth-generation forebear, William Goodhue (1612-1669), who had emigrated from Ipswich, in East Suffolk, England. Sam’s family tree included many a Salem ship-owner and captain as well as Charles Leonard Goodhue, America’s great waterworks engineer. Making things work was obviously a trait which carried down in Yankee families, for Sam worked for 30 years for the Foxboro Company, traveling the world—from the deserts of Iran to arctic Canada—as a trouble-shooter in process control installations.

For all of his “loner” attitude and appearance, Sam was beloved by the few younger folk who knew him well. But, he died—as he lived—a self-sustaining loner, who paid his own way through the world. Samuel H. Goodhue was rightfully proud of the fact that he consistently put more into American society than he took out, and invested wisely in the future, thereby leaving far more of an estate than did his parents. Sam left half to the Mt. Washington Observatory and half to the Lowell Observatory.

William L. Putnam, AAC

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