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Gorham, New Hampshire
Town
Buildings along Main Street
Buildings along Main Street
Nickname(s): 
"Switzerland of America"
Location in Coös County, New Hampshire
Country United States
State New Hampshire
County Coös
Incorporated 1836
Villages Gorham
Cascade
Upper Village
Area
 • Total 32.3 sq mi (83.7 km2)
 • Land 31.8 sq mi (82.4 km2)
 • Water 0.5 sq mi (1.3 km2)  1.50%
Elevation
794 ft (242 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 2,698
 • Density 85/sq mi (32.7/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
03581
Area code(s) 603
FIPS code 33-30260
GNIS feature ID 0873607

Gorham is a town in Coös County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 2,698 at the 2020 census. Gorham is located in the White Mountains, and parts of the White Mountain National Forest are in the south and northwest. Moose Brook State Park is in the west. Tourism is a principal business. It is part of the Berlin, NH–VT Micropolitan Statistical Area.

The central village in Gorham, where 1,851 people resided at the 2020 census, is defined as the Gorham census-designated place and is located between the two intersections of US 2 and NH 16, along the Androscoggin River.

History

Construction of Cascade Mill
Construction of the Cascade Mill began in 1904, by the Brown Company.

The community was first chartered in 1770 by Colonial Governor John Wentworth as a part of Shelburne, called Shelburne Addition. Gorham was first settled about 1802, by Robert Sargent and others, but for years it contained little more than rocky farms, small logging operations, and a few stores and stables. When incorporated in 1836, the town had only 150 inhabitants. It was named Gorham at the suggestion of Lot Davis, a resident from Gorham, Maine, and a relative of the Gorham family which incorporated that town in 1764.

The St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad (later the Grand Trunk Railway) arrived in 1851. Located halfway between Montreal and the New England seacoast, Gorham developed into a railroad town, with a major locomotive yard and repair facility. With trains came tourists, and the Mount Madison House, Alpine House, Gorham House and Willis House opened. Crowds went from Boston and the seacoast to White Mountain Station, and from there to the Glen House in Pinkham Notch and Mount Washington. In 1861, travelers made the first trek up the Mount Washington Carriage Road, winding 8 miles (13 km) to the summit of the 6,288-foot (1,917 m) mountain. "The Road to the Sky" was an engineering feat of its day, advertised as "the first man-made attraction in the United States." It would be renamed the Mount Washington Auto Road, and remains popular today.

GorhamNHView
View of Gorham from Mt. Hayes, 2016

Railroads benefited local industries as well, hauling freight for mills run by water power from the Androscoggin River. Logging flourished, with boards and building timber manufactured by the Libby and the Peabody lumber companies. That business would eventually decline, as would railroads. In 1973, the town's train depot, built in 1907, was scheduled for demolition. The Gorham Historical Society saved the building, which now serves as a headquarters and museum. It features displays on area history, with a collection including locomotives, boxcars and a caboose.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 32.3 square miles (84 km2), of which 31.9 sq mi (83 km2) is land and 0.4 sq mi (1.0 km2) is water, comprising 1.27% of the town. The town center (census-designated place) has a total area of 0.9 sq mi (2.3 km2), of which approximately 0.9 sq mi (2.3 km2) is land and approximately 0.1 sq mi (0.26 km2) is water.

Gorham is drained by the Androscoggin, Peabody, and Moose rivers, and the smaller Moose Brook. Gorham lies fully within the Androscoggin River watershed.

The highest point in Gorham is along its western border, on a spur of Mount Madison, where the elevation reaches 3,030 feet (920 m) above sea level. While Gorham itself is surrounded by larger mountains, a small prominent peak within the town is 2,400-foot (730 m) high Pine Mountain.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 156
1850 224 43.6%
1860 907 304.9%
1870 1,167 28.7%
1880 1,383 18.5%
1890 1,710 23.6%
1900 1,797 5.1%
1910 2,155 19.9%
1920 2,734 26.9%
1930 2,763 1.1%
1940 2,597 −6.0%
1950 2,639 1.6%
1960 3,039 15.2%
1970 2,998 −1.3%
1980 3,322 10.8%
1990 3,173 −4.5%
2000 2,895 −8.8%
2010 2,848 −1.6%
2020 2,698 −5.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
Gorham Common 5
Gorham Common, with the restored train depot on the left and Gorham Town Hall on the right

As of the census of 2010, there were 2,848 people, 1,301 households, and 802 families residing in the town. There were 1,487 housing units, of which 186, or 12.5%, were vacant. The racial makeup of the town was 97.0% white, 0.1% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 0.04% some other race, and 1.5% from two or more races. 0.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Of the 1,301 households, 25.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.7% were headed by married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.4% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.6% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19, and the average family size was 2.73.

Cascade Mill, Gorham, NH
Cascade Mill c. 1920

In the town, 19.4% of the population were under the age of 18, 5.4% were from 18 to 24, 21.8% from 25 to 44, 34.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.8% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.0 males.

For the period 2011-2015, the estimated median annual income for a household was $51,190, and the median income for a family was $63,071. Male full-time workers had a median income of $45,432 versus $33,542 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,508. 7.5% of the population and 4.5% of families were below the poverty line. 12.0% of the population under the age of 18 and 9.0% of those 65 or older were living in poverty.

Gorham Fire Department Stevage
Gorham Fire Department, 2009

Historical demographics

Howard Mansfield of The Washington Post wrote that in the 1920s, "When you spoke of prejudice in all-white Gorham, it was between the Protestants and the Catholic French Canadians."

Sites of interest

Education

  • Gorham High School

Notable people

  • William Hatch (b. ), New Hampshire politician
  • Albert C. Johnston (–1988), doctor

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