Holderness & East Holderness
Holderness, New Hampshire
Holderness is a town in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 2,108 at the 2010 census. An agricultural and resort area, Holderness is home to the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center and is located on Squam Lake. Holderness is also home to Holderness School, a co-educational college-preparatory boarding school.
The Squam Lakes were a trade route for Abenaki Indians and early European settlers, who traveled the Squam River to the Pemigewasset River, then to the Merrimack River and seacoast. In 1751, Thomas Shepard submitted a petition on behalf of 64 grantees to Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth for 6 miles square on the Pemigewasset River. The governing council accepted, and the town was named after Robert Darcy, 4th Earl of Holderness. The French and Indian War, however, prevented settlement until after the 1759 Fall of Quebec. The land was regranted as New Holderness in 1761 to a group of New England families, and first settled in 1763. As proprietor of half the town, Samuel Livermore intended to create at New Holderness a great estate patterned after those of the English countryside. By 1790, the town had 329 residents, and in 1816, "New" was dropped from its name.
Holderness became a farming and fishing community, except for the "business or flat iron area" located on the Squam River, which has falls that drop about 112 feet before meeting the Pemigewasset River. With water power to operate mills, the southwestern corner of town developed into an industrial center, to which the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad entered in 1849. But the mill village would be at odds with the agricultural community, especially when denied civic amenities including gaslights and sidewalks. Consequently, in 1868, it was set off as Ashland.
Tourists in the 19th century discovered the region's scenic mountains and lakes. Before the age of automobiles, they would depart the train in Ashland and board a steamer, which traveled up the Squam River to rustic fishing camps or hillside hotels beside Squam Lake. Today, Holderness remains a popular resort area, where in 1981 the movie On Golden Pond was filmed.
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