90 Captivating Facts About New Hampshire, the “Mother of Rivers”

New Hampshire, one of the original 13 colonies, is famous for its White Mountains, which are the source of many rivers.

Find out what else the “Mother of Rivers” is known for with these interesting New Hampshire Facts!

General Facts About New Hampshire

  • New Hampshire is located in the New England and Northeastern regions of the United States.
  • New Hampshire’s coastline is only 18 mi (29 km) long (the shortest of any coastal US state), while its border with Canada is only 58 mi (93 km), with only one border crossing between countries.
  • For New Hampshire’s border with Vermont, which follows the Connecticut River, the border is on the Vermont side of the river, so the whole river technically lies in New Hampshire.
  • Out of the 50 states, New Hampshire is the 5th smallest, with a total land area of 9,349 mi² (24,214 km²). Only New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island are smaller (all of which are also in the Northeastern US).
  • New Hampshire is about half the size of Slovakia, or about 7 times the size of Long Island in New York State.
  • New Hampshire is only 15.5 mi (25 km) wide at its thinnest point.
Lake Champlain New Hampshire with mountains and pink sky in background
Lake Champlain, which is shared by New Hampshire, Vermont, and Quebec
  • People say that New Hampshire is shaped like a steak or a right triangle.
  • New Hampshire is the 10th least populous state, with 1.4 million residents. It sits between Hawaii and Maine in terms of population.
  • Algonquian Native American tribes that inhabited the region of New Hampshire were the Abenaki, Penacook, Sokoki, Ossipee, Cowasuck, Pigwacket, and Winnipesaukee.
  • Currently, there aren’t any federally-recognized Native American tribes in New Hampshire. Native people make up less than 0.1% of the population.
  • New Hampshire has the highest percentage of people with French-Canadian background (23%) of any US state.
Buildings in downtown Concord, New Hampshire at night
Concord, capital of New Hampshire
  • Three-quarters of the state’s population lives within 50 mi (80 km) of the border with Massachusetts.
  • Concord is the state capital of New Hampshire. It is the 3rd largest city in New Hampshire, with a population of 44,000.
  • Manchester (named after Manchester, England) is the state’s largest city, with 116,000 people (metropolitan 423,000), while Nashua comes in second place.
  • New Hampshire was named after a county in England, Hampshire, by Captain John Smith. He had originally named it North Virginia, to differentiate it from the Jamestown colony in Virginia.
  • NH is the official abbreviation of New Hampshire.
Downtown Manchester, New Hampshire at night viewed from across the river and a bridge
Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire
  • Residents of New Hampshire are called Granite Staters or New Hampshirites.
  • “The Granite State” is the nickname of New Hampshire, which refers to the state’s extensive granite quarries and granite formations.
  • Another nickname for the state is “Mother of Rivers” because several rivers originate there, including the Connecticut, Androscoggin, Saco, and Merrimack.
  • Yet another is White Mountain State after the mountain range that covers nearly a quarter of the state, part of the Northern Appalachians.
  • “Live Free or Die” is the state motto of New Hampshire, which reflects the role the state played in the American Revolutionary War. For tourism purposes, it is sometimes abbreviated to simply “Live Free”.
The New Hampshire official state flag
Official flag of the state
  • New Hampshire’s state flag has the state seal on a blue background. The seal features the USS Raleigh warship inside a gold wreath with 9 stars, as it was the ninth state.
  • New Hampshire has two official state mammals: the bobcat and white-tailed deer.
  • The seven-spotted ladybug is the official state insect (6 other states have a ladybug as the official state insect).
  • The purple lilac is New Hampshire’s official state flower.

Random Interesting Facts About New Hampshire

  • The state was the 3rd of the 13 colonies to be established (1623), after Virginia and Massachusetts.
  • New Hampshire has the highest literacy rate in the US, at 94.2%.
  • Over a third of all New Hampshirite adults have a university degree.
  • New Hampshire has the largest lower house of any US state, with over 400 house representatives, nearly double the second largest (Pennsylvania).
A wooden boardwalk through narrow Flume Gorge in New Hampshire
Beautiful Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park
  • Although there are no national parks or UNESCO World Heritage Sites in New Hampshire, the state does have 52 state parks. The largest is Pisgah State Park, a wetlands area in the state’s southwestern corner.
  • The most popular is Franconia Notch State Park, famous for narrow Flume Gorge and Old Man of the Mountain, a sacred granite cliff face that unfortunately collapsed in 2003. It has become a symbol of the state and can be seen on some license plates.
  • Dartmouth College, founded in 1769 to educate Native Americans on English ways of life, remains one of the oldest and most prestigious in the US.
Mount Washington Hotel in  Mount Washington Hotel at the base of a mountain with clouds around it
Mount Washington Hotel
  • The famous muralist José Clemente Orozco from Mexico, contemporary of Diego Rivera, painted a series of murals in the Baker-Berry Library at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. It is called “The Epic of American Civilization”.
  • The Peterborough Town Library is the oldest still-running public library in the US, and was recently renovated. It was established in 1833, 19 years before the Boston Public Library, the oldest large public library in the country.
  • Wolfeboro on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire is considered the country’s first summer resort, with origins going back to 1771 as a country estate, and later becoming popular among Boston families.
  • The largest nudist resort in the Northeastern US is in New Hampshire. Called Cedar Waters Village, it also happens to be Christian!
Seaside path and road at Hampton beach, a beach resort in New Hampshire
Hampton Beach
  • 83.4% of New Hampshire is covered in forest, second only to Maine.
  • Mount Washington is the highest point not only in New Hampshire but also New England the Northeastern US, at 6,288 ft (1,916.66 m).
  • The Mount Washington Cog Railway is the world’s oldest of its kind, and the 2nd steepest track after Pilatus Railway in Switzerland. It goes so slowly that there’s even an annual “Race Against the Cog”.  
  • The Mount Washington Auto Road is considered the oldest still-running tourist attraction in the country. Horse drawn carriages went up the road starting from 1861.
  • At Story Land amusement park, kids can ride is a real-life Cinderella pumpkin coach.
A Mount Washington Cog Railway car painted purple with snow around it and a view of mountains and valley behind it
Mount Washington Cog Railway
  • The state’s highest recorded temperature was 106°F (41°C) in Nashua on July 4, 1911. The lowest was -47°F (-44°C), recorded atop Mount Washington on January 29, 1934.
  • The first potato to be planted in the country was at the Londonderry Common Field in New Hampshire.
  • The first alarm clock was invented by Concord resident Levi Hutchins in 1787.
  • BASIC computer programming language, designed to be accessible by people other than computer scientists, was invented at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in 1964.
  • The first American to travel in space was Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. of East Derry, New Hampshire.
  • 14th US president Franklin Pierce has been the only New Hampshire-born president so far.
“Mary Had a Little Lamb” was written by a New Hampshirite
  • The author and journalist who wrote the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in 1830 was Sarah Josepha Hale of Newport, New Hampshire.
  • Other famous authors and poets who were born or lived in New Hampshire include John Irving, Dan Brown, Robert Frost, Jodi Picoult, Bill Bryson, and Alice B. Fogel.
  • Famous actresses and actors from New Hampshire include Sarah Silverman, Mia Tyler, Eliza Coupe, Mandy Moore, Ilene Woods, Matt Czuchry, Jared Sandler, Wilson Bethel, and Matty Cardarople.
  • Bands and musicians from New Hampshire include The Queers, GG Allin, Jon Spencer, Ray LaMontagne, and Mandy Moore.
  • The members of Aerosmith first met in New Hampshire.
Famous authors associated with New Hampshire: Robert Frost, John Irving, Jodi Picoult and Dan Brown (clockwise from top-left)
  • The state has a legacy of women in politics. For instance, despite being unable to vote, Marilla Ricker ran for the office of Governor in 1910; however, she didn’t succeed.
  • New Hampshire elected several women representatives by write-in just a decade later, in the first election after the national recognition of women’s suffrage.
  • New Hampshire was the first state to have all of its top-level state positions filled by women, which happened in 1999. The state senate had a female majority by 2008.
  • New Hampshire became the first state in the US to send an all-woman delegation to Congress in both Senator and Representative positions in 2012.
  • New Hampshire has some weird laws which will make you scratch your head and wonder why. For instance, if you have a ferret in your possession, custody or control while hunting- you are breaking the law.
  • It’s also prohibited to keep time to the music in a café or tavern by nodding your head, tapping your feet, or in any other way.
  • Other New Hampshire laws include a ban on using heavy machinery on Sundays, peeing while looking up on a Sunday, picking up seaweed on a beach, or selling clothes that you’re wearing to pay off a gambling debt.

Historical Facts About New Hampshire

  • Native American people first inhabited the New Hampshire region at least 12,000 years ago.
  • In 1603, New Hampshire was first explored by Englishman Martin Pring.
An empty coastline in New Hampshire at sunset
The coast of New Hampshire as early explorers would have seen it
  • New Hampshire’s first permanent settlement, Hilton’s Point (today’s Dover) was founded in 1623, three years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in Massachusetts.
  • The state’s first recorded slaves appeared in the records of Portsmouth in 1645.
  • New Hampshire joined Massachusetts in 1641, but became its own separate colony again in 1679. It then became a part of the Dominion of New England.
  • By the mid-1700s, most of the Native population had been killed or driven out, and many significant English-French wars took place there.
  • Dartmouth College was founded in 1769, making it one of the country’s oldest.
White building called Dartmouth College Hall
Dartmouth College
  • New Hampshire became the first state to declare its independence from England in 1774.
  • In 1778, New Hampshire became the first state to hold a constitutional convention.
  • In 1788, New Hampshire became the 9th state to join the Union.
  • In 1790, the state of Vermont was created out of lands that had been disputed between New Hampshire and New York State.
  • Concord was made the permanent state capital of New Hampshire in 1808.
  • In 1828, 400 women employed at Dover’s Cocheco Mills organized the nation’s first entirely female strike due to reduced wages and new regulations.
Exterior of the New Hampshire State House building in Concord
New Hampshire State House in Concord
  • The country’s first public library was founded in Peterborough in 1833.
  • From 1832 to 1835, an independent republic called the Republic of Indian Stream existed in what is now New Hampshire, near the border with Canada. It had a population of around 300.
  • In 1852, Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire became the 14th President of the US.
  • The last state execution in New Hampshire was in 1939.
  • In 1944, Mount Washington Hotel hosted the Bretton Woods Conference, which established the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
A old red brick textile mill along the river in Manchester, New Hampshire
Former textile mill along the river in Manchester
  • In 1945, a Nazi submarine surrendered to US forces near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Materials from the ship, which the Nazis had planned to take to Japan, later ended up in the atomic bombs that the Americans would drop on Japan.
  • In 1961, Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. of New Hampshire became the first American to travel into space. He also became the 5th man to walk on the moon in 1971.
  • In 1972, Dartmouth College, the state’s oldest, finally started admitting women as full-time students.
  • In 1999, New Hampshire became the last state in the US to put Martin Luther King’s name on the day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
  • On 1 January 2008, the new state law legalized same-sex partnerships. As a result, dozens of gay and lesbian couples entered into civil unions on New Year’s Day.
A street in downtown Concord at night, with street lights and clock tower
Downtown Concord today
  • Almost a century after women obtained the right to vote, an all-female Congressional delegation represented New Hampshire in 2012, becoming the first state ever to do so.
  • In 2019, the state banned all oil drilling off its coast.
  • From March 26 to June 15, 2020, New Hampshire residents were under stay-at-home order due to COVID-19.