Geography and Landforms:

New Hampshire is sometimes referred to as the "Mother of Rivers." Five of the great streams of New England originate in its granite hills. The Connecticut River rises in the northern part. The Pemigewasset River starts in the Profile Lake in the Franconia mountains and joins the Winnipesaukee at Franklin to form the Merrimack. The Cocheco and Salmon Falls rivers join at Dover to form the Piscataqua. In addition, two of the principal rivers of Maine, the Androscoggin and the Saco, begin in northern New Hampshire.

New Hampshire has 1300 lakes or ponds and 40,000 miles of rivers and streams which provide year round fishing and recreation in scenic surroundings, as well as power for the State's many industries.

The White Mountains are New Hampshire's best known natural feature. Mount Washington (elevation of 6,288 feet) is the highest mountain east of the Rockies and north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Its privately-owned cog railway was the first mountain climbing railway in the world.

Although New Hampshire has a coastline of only eighteen miles, the port city of Portsmouth has a large navy ship yard with a long and prosperous history. New Hampshire is heavily forested with an abundance of elm, maple, beech, oak, pine, hemlock and fir trees.


English King James I gave the land that now includes Maine and New Hampshire to Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason in 1622. The two men divided the land in 1629, Mason receiving his share between the Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers. He named it after his home county in England, Hampshire. Mason, in conjunction with several others, sent David Thomson, a Scotsman, and Edward and Thomas Hilton, fish-merchants of London, with a number of other people in two divisions to establish a fishing colony in what is now New Hampshire, at the mouth of the Piscataqua River.

The English government, Native Americans, and members of the neighboring Massachusetts Bay Colony all struggled for control of New Hampshire in the early years of the colony. Members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were particularly interested in the territory. Some who were unhappy with the religious control of the Puritans in Massachusetts settled the town of Exeter. Others, who wanted to expand the territory of Massachusetts, settled the town of Hampton. Massachusetts bought New Hampshire in 1641, but in 1680 King Charles II again made it a separate colony.

Eventually, concerns about British control of the colony led to the establishment of an independent government on January 5, 1776. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the 9th state to ratify the new United States Constitution.

Although the first African slave was brought to the area as early as 1645, New Hampshire was against slavery in the first half of the 19th century and sent about 34,000 soldiers to fight for the Union during the Civil War. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard built ships that blockaded Southern ports.

After the war, the once agricultural state began a period of industrial growth with new businesses and factories. Thousands of immigrants from Canada and Europe came to work in textile, woodworking, and leather industries. Many farmers left to claim free land in the West, creating more of an urban New Hampshire.

During World War I, Portsmouth again supplied warships. Leather and shoe manufacturing became the state's leading industry. World War II required more warships and submarines. New Hampshire's textile mills supplied military uniforms and its shoe factories produced boots.


Manufacturing has been important in New Hampshire since the late 1800s. The textile mills and factories producing leather goods (such as shoes and boots) that once lined the state's fast-moving rivers have given way to high-technology firms. Lumbering has been important since the first sawmill was built on the Salmon Falls River in 1631. Most of the timber cut now is used in paper production. Although New Hampshire has long been known as the Granite State, its large deposits of the stone--used for building as early as 1623--are no longer extensively quarried because the use of steel and concrete in modern construction has greatly decreased the granite market.

Year-round tourism is now the state's leading industry. Many visitors come to enjoy the state's beaches, mountains, and lakes. The largest lake, Winnipesaukee, is dotted with 274 inhabitable islands, while along the Atlantic shore 18 mi of curving beaches (many state-owned) attract vacationers. Of the rugged Isles of Shoals off the coast, three belong to New Hampshire. Originally fishing colonies, they are now used largely as summer residences.

In the winter, skiers flock northward and the state has responded to the increasing popularity of winter sports by greatly expanding its facilities. When the snows melt, skiers are replaced by hikers, rafters, and climbers. Folk crafts such as wood carving, weaving, and pottery making have been revived to meet the tourist market.

First Inhabitants:

Archaeologists believe the first humans came to the area now known as New Hampshire around 10,000 years ago after the glaciers receded and the climate warmed. These tribes became more settled and less nomadic as time went on. Because of climate and length of growing season, tribes in the north of New Hampshire probably engaged in more hunting while tribes in the south engaged in relatively more agriculture, although agriculture probably never had the importance in early New Hampshire that it had further south in what we now call Massachusetts.

The Abenaki and Pennacook Indians were living in the area of New Hampshire when Europeans arrived. It is unknown who the first white men to explore the area were, but general exploration began in the 1600s. Europeans came to New Hampshire for economic reasons, looking to exploit the resources of the area, especially forests, furs, and fish.

In 1603, the Englishman Martin Pring explored the mouth of the Piscataqua River. John Smith explored the Isles of Shoals in 1614, naming them Smith's Islands.

European diseases brought to the New World by early settlers may have killed as many as 95% of the natives in the area of New Hampshire. Those remaining retreated to Vermont and Canada under pressure from English settlers.

Books Related To New Hampshire

The Bear That Heard Crying - Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
(978-0140558548) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 650, ESL level: 2 - 3
In 1973, Sarah Whitecher, age 3, was protected by a bear in the woods after she got lost and was not rescued for four days; this book is a fictional version of her experience.

Dillon Dillon - Kate Banks
(978-0374417154) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-7, Lexile: 520, ESL level: 3
Dillon comes to appreciate the lake loons and finds out why he has a double name during a wonderful summer.

The Enormous Egg - Oliver Butterworth
(978-0316119207) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-8, Lexile: 900, ESL level: 3 - 4
After Nate's regular chicken lays an enormous egg out of which hatches a dinosaur, many other unbelievable events take place.

First Boy - Gary Schmidt
(978-0312371494) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 850, ESL level: 4
A fourteen-year old responsible for an entire dairy farm on his own, makes his political beliefs very public during a contested election year.

G is for Granite: A New Hampshire Alphabet - Marie Harris
(978-1585360833) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 0-2, ESL level: 1 - 2
This book features all the things that are special about the state of New Hampshire.

Lucy's Summer - Donald Hall
(156-7923488) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 760, ESL level: 3 - 4
Lucy's 1910 summer includes lots of enjoyable activities including celebrating the 4th of July, helping her mother with canning, and picnicking with her family.

Night Wings - Joseph Bruchac
(978-0061123184) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 890, ESL level: 4
Thirteen-year-old native American Paul is kidnapped and forced to face a archetypal monster known to the native Abenaki Indians in an effort to escape.

Stained - Jennifer Richard Jacobson
(978-0689867453) , Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, Lexile: 660, ESL level: 3 - 4
This book, for mature teens only, describes the interplay between friends with secrets and the sexual abuse of one by a trusted priest.

The Trouble with Jeremy Chance - George Harrar
(978-1571316691) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-9, Lexile: 780, ESL level: 4
Jeremy leaves his home in New Hampshire after his father beats him in order to greet his brother who is returning from WWI.

A Week in the Woods - Andrew Clements
(978-0689858024) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-8, Lexile: 820, ESL level: 3 - 4
Mark learns to come to terms with a challenging teacher and hones his survival skills when his class goes on a camping excursion.

Famous Citizens:

Sarah Josepha Hale
Sarah Josepha Hale, born in Newport, New Hampshire, was an author and journalist who wrote the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb." She also edited Godey's Ladies Book the first periodical for American women, and was a leader in suggesting that there be a national Thanksgiving day. President Lincoln adopted her suggestion in 1863.

S. Christa McAuliffe
Although she was born in Boston, Massachusetts, when NASA selected Christa McAuliffe to be the first teacher in space, she was living in New Hampshire. She died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded just after lift-off in 1986.

Franklin Pierce
Born in Hillsboro, New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce was 14th President of the United States from 1853 to 1857. He realized that the issue of slavery was dividing the nation, but he could not find any way to reach a compromise that would please both northern and southern states.

Alan B. Shepard, Jr.
Born in Derry, New Hampshire, Alan Shepard was one of the first 7 Mercury astronauts. In 1961, he was the first American to travel in space. His successful flight made him an instant celebrity. When he later piloted the Apollo 14 mission to the Moon, he became the oldest man to walk on the Moon.

Capital: Concord
Entered Union: June 21, 1788
Population: 1,326,813
Area 9,350
Bird Purple Finch
Flower Purple Lilac
Nickname: The Granite State
Governor Maggie Hassan

Places to Visit in New Hampshire: (Click the links to learn more.)

The Fort at No. 4 Living History Museum - Charlestown
Located along the shore of the Connecticut River at Charlestown, NH, The Fort at No. 4 Living History Museum is dedicated to the memory of men and women who helped shape Vermont and New Hampshire during the early 1700's. This historically correct re-creation helps educate people about the day-to-day living as well as historical events that took place at this location during this important period of American History.

Ruggles Mine - Grafton
Commercial production of mica in the United States first began at the Ruggles Mine in 1803. New Hampshire was the sole producer until 1868. Mica was first extracted with hand drills, black powder and horse drawn dump carts, then with steam drills and winches, and in recent years with dynamite, from the solid rock on Isinglass Mountain.

The mine is famous for its huge books of mica, measuring 3 to 4 feet across and weighing over 100 pounds. The Bon Ami Company operated the mine from 1932 to 1959 for feldspar, mica and beryl. Feldspar production during this period ran about 10,000 tons per year. During this time, one mass of beryl was found which filled 3 freight cars and paid for the entire year's operations.

America's Stonehenge - North Salem
Built by a Native American culture or a migrant European population? No one knows for sure. A maze of man-made chambers, walls and ceremonial meeting places, America's Stonehenge is one of the oldest man-made sites in the United States and is over 4,000 years old. Archaeological excavation at the site has uncovered an amazing range of historic and pre-historic artifacts-from stone tools, pottery and ancient old world scripts to 18th and 19th century house wares, and manacles possibly removed from slaves who used the site as a stop on the Underground Railroad in the 1830's and 1840's.

Canterbury Shaker Village - Canterbury
Take a step back in time and experience 200 years of the Shaker way of life. There are 25 original buildings situated on a rolling hilltop surrounded by open fields, woodlots, and ponds. A guided tour will introduce the customs, inventions, furniture, architecture, and values of this utopian society. Watch crafts being made in the Shaker tradition, including oval boxes, brooms, poplarware and dovetailed totes. Explore the Physician's Botanical garden and three easily accessible nature trails to millponds, archeological remains of old mills and dam sites.

Mount Washington - Mount Washington
Opened in 1861, the Mt. Washington Auto Road is America's oldest manmade tourist attraction and one of the most popular destinations in New Hampshire. As soon as the snow clears in May, the Auto Road opens and guests can travel up to the summit of the highest peak in the Northeast, 6,288-foot Mt. Washington. Take a guided tour in an Auto Road van with an experienced and knowledgeable stage driver and learn about the mountain's ecology, history, legends and lore - or take your own vehicle and receive a free informative audio tour on cassette or CD.