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 a
nd seacoast. In 1751
, Thomas Shepard submitted a petition on behalf of 64 grantees to Colonial
Governor Benning Wentworth f
or 6 miles square on the Pemigewasset River. The governing council accepted, and the town was named "Holderness" after Robert Darcy, 4th Earl of Holderness, Ambassador to Venice and Minister at the Hague under King George III..
The terrors of the French and Indian War
, however, prevented settlement until after the Fall of Quebec i
. The land was regranted as "New Holderness" in 1761 t
o a group of New England f
amilies, 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
, the town had 329 residents, and in 1816
, "New" was dropped from its name.
Holderness became a farming a
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
This area of the Lakes Region offers a quiet, serene atmosphere for relaxation. Holderness is located directly off I-93 and is centrally located between the lakes and mountain regions, making it convenient for vacationers to enjoy both regions during their stay.
Be sure to include a visit to the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, located at the junction of Routes 25 & 113 in Holderness. Here you can explore nature and observe black bear, fox and more in trailside enclosures. The Center offers self-guided nature trails, hands-on exhibits and Squam Lake boat tours.
According to the United States Census Bureau, t
he town has a total area of
35.6 square miles
. 30.4 square miles of it is land and 5.2 square miles of it is water, comprising 14.73% of the town. Bounded on the northwest by the Pemigewasset River
, Holderness is drained by Owl Brook. Part of Squam Lake
is in the east, and Little Squam Lake
is in the center. Mount Prospect, elevation 2,064 feet
above sea level
, is in the north. Also in the north is the highest point in Holderness, Mount Webster, elevation 2,076 feet, part of the Squam Range.
History and Early Settlers