New Hampshire was one of the original thirteen colonies and became a state in 1788. It’s a small state with a small population, but its natural beauty and splendor are overwhelming! In fact, its natural beauty has earned it the nickname, the “Switzerland of America.” Did you know that New Hampshire is a prime vacation destination? Did you know that it’s your go-to place for mountains, beaches, beautiful state parks, quaint little towns and more? Here are 7 more things we bet you didn’t know about the Granite State.
It was once home to a POW camp.
In northern New Hampshire in Coos County, the town of Stark was once the location of a CCC camp (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the 1930s. By the time the United States joined World War II, the camp had already been abandoned, but it was later used to detain German POWs who were shipped to New Hampshire from Camp Devens, Massachusetts. In 1944, German POW Franz Bacher managed to escape the camp and elude American troops for more than a month before being captured again.
The oldest resort in the United States is here.
Since New Hampshire was one of the original thirteen colonies, it makes sense that it lays claim to some of the oldest things in the country. The city of Wolfeboro is one such thing—it’s the oldest resort in the United States. The town was incorporated in 1770 by a group of men from the town of Portsmouth. The governor at the time—Benning Wentworth—gave the group of men a land grant, and later, Wentworth’s nephew built an expansive country estate near Lake Winnipesaukee. This estate helped to establish Wolfeboro as a summertime community. The landscape in the area, as well as the scenic views of Lake Winnipesaukee, are just two of the reasons Wolfeboro has grown into the popular summer destination that it is today.
It’s home to the first free public library.
The town of Peterborough, New Hampshire, is the site of the country’s first free public library and the oldest tax-supported library in the world. In the 1830s, the idea of the library was proposed by a Unitarian minister—Reverend Ariel Abbot. Upon the town’s approval, the library opened in 1833 with only 100 books. Today, the library has more than 43,000 books, in addition to other print and non-print media. The library’s importance isn’t only based on it being the first free library with public access; it’s also based on the principle on which the library was organized—that the business of the library, just like the public schools, should be funded by tax dollars from the community’s residents. This, in turn, gives the residents a representation and a say in how the library is run and in what the future of the library looks like.
The highest peak in the northeastern United States is in New Hampshire.
Located in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, Mount Washington—at 6,288.2 feet above sea level—is the highest peak in the northeastern United States. It’s also the most prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River. The Mt. Washington Observatory weather station sits atop the mountain. The summit of Mt. Washington is known for being very windy. The observatory’s weather station has clocked wind speeds at the summit of more than 210 miles per hour. The observatory itself facilitates educational trips to the summit of Mt. Washington. It also has two distinctly unique museums where visitors can learn about weather patterns on the mountain and in the surrounding area.
Hampton Beach is the state’s largest sandbox.
A popular beach resort lies near the town of Hampton, New Hampshire, in Rockingham County along the Atlantic Coast. The centerpiece of the resort is the beautiful beach and the even more beautiful blue Atlantic waters. The beach is part of Hampton Beach State Park and was named one of four “superstar” beaches in 2011 because of its perfect water-quality testing results. But there’s more to Hampton Beach than just the beach. Ocean Boulevard, the main street that runs through the resort, is chock full of everything from shops and restaurants to seasonal hotels and a beautiful boardwalk. Visitors to Hampton Beach can also try their luck at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom and the Aces and Eights Casino. Boating excursions can be booked through operators like Al Gauron Fisheries, which offers deep-sea fishing, whale watching and more. Traveling with kids or thrill junkies of any age? Head to the Casino Cascade Water Slide, which is actually a combination of three different slides that give riders a great view of the ocean. The slides are also the tallest, most exciting rides at Hampton Beach!
One of the state parks is the site of a natural gorge.
The Flume Gorge was carved out over time at the base of Mt. Liberty inside Franconia Notch State Park by the Flume Brook. The walls of the gorge are made of Conway granite that rise 70 to 90 feet above the ground. The gorge was discovered accidentally in 1808 by 93-year-old “Aunt” Jess Guernsey while she was fishing. It opens to the public each year beginning in May. The walk through the gorge begins and ends at the Flume Visitor’s Center. Visitors can choose to only walk through the gorge and back or take the two-mile loop through the gorge and around back to the Visitor’s Center. Admission is $16 for adults, $14 for kids ages 6 to 12 and free for kids ages 5 and under. For more information about the Flume Gorge, as well as other natural wonders and beauty in New Hampshire, visit www.nhstateparks.org.
The first publicized alien abduction took place in New Hampshire.
In 1961, Betty and Barney Hill from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, reported being abducted by extraterrestrials while driving through the back roads of Lincoln, New Hampshire. A handful of these kinds of stories had surfaced before this one, but the alleged encounter reported by Betty and Barney Hill was the first one to ever be so widely publicized. Some New Hampshire-ites believed the Hills’ story while others didn’t give it another thought. Regardless of the validity of their story, 50 years after the reported abduction, a historical marker was erected where the alleged event took place.