An Introduction to the Granite State
New Hampshire's official nickname is “The Granite State,” but a more fitting moniker might just be “The Little Bit of This and a Little Dash of That State.” Whether you picture majestic mountains, sparkling lakes, rushing rivers, bustling cities, sleepy villages, or seashore as the backdrop to your New England adventure, you can find the perfect setting within New Hampshire's borders.
The first European settlement in New Hampshire was a fishing colony established in 1623. New Hampshire has 1,300 lakes and ponds and 40,000 miles of rivers and streams — 115,000 acres of water in all — that provide opportunities for fishing and recreation. Fittingly, in 1865, New Hampshire was the first New England state to establish a fish and game department and to promote active conservation. New Hampshire also has an ocean coast, and while it is just eighteen miles long, it provides not only fertile saltwater fishing and lobstering grounds, but vacation enticements for those who heed the call of the beach.
The Old Man of the Mountain, which you may recognize from the New Hampshire state quarter, was a rock formation in the Franconia Mountains that looked distinctly like the profile of a weathered old man. Sadly, this natural wonder was discovered missing on the morning of May 3, 2003. Visitors can see what the Old Man looked like before he fell by gazing through high-tech viewers that have been installed at viewing areas along the Franconia Notch Parkway.
Mountains are another prominent feature of New Hampshire's landscape, and the state's peaks hold the promise of skiing in the winter, hiking in the spring and summer, and fabulous foliage sightseeing come autumn. Thanks to the dream of one man, Sylvester Marsh, the summit of Mt. Washington is accessible via the world's first mountain-climbing cog railway. Though members of the New Hampshire Legislature scoffed at Marsh and told him he “might as well build a railway to the Moon,” this 1869 engineering feat continues to take visitors the 6,288 feet to the mountain's top.