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Northfield, New Hampshire
Hall Memorial Library c. 1905
Hall Memorial Library c. 1905
Official seal of Northfield, New Hampshire
Motto: "A Great Place to Live!"
Location in Merrimack County and the state of New Hampshire
Location in Merrimack County and the state of New Hampshire
Country United States
State New Hampshire
County Merrimack
Incorporated 1780
 • Total 29.0 sq mi (75.2 km2)
 • Land 28.8 sq mi (74.6 km2)
 • Water 0.3 sq mi (0.7 km2)  0.89%
Elevation 440 ft (134 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 4,829
 • Density 166.52/sq mi (64.22/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 603
FIPS code 33-54260
GNIS feature ID 0873686

Northfield is a town in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 4,829 at the 2010 census.


Settlers first arrived in Northfield in the early 1700s. Initially Northfield was incorporated as part of Canterbury when that town was established in 1741. At the time it was a frontier town protected by a garrison fort erected on a hill close to Canterbury Center and commanded by Capt. Jeremiah Clough. Tradition has it that the first settlers of the "north fields" of Canterbury came from the scouts from this fort who patrolled the area in the 1740s.

The north fields of Canterbury prospered. Farming was the principal industry. Additionally, dams along the Winnipesaukee and Merrimack rivers and several brooks powered early sawmills and gristmills. By the 1770s there was a substantial population in the north fields of Canterbury.

By 1780 the residents of the north fields found it increasingly difficult to travel to the center of Canterbury to attend to town business. On March 30, 1780, they filed the following petition with the State of New Hampshire (spelling left as printed in 1780):

Canterbury, March 30, 1780
“The humble petition of ye Subscribers Inhabitants of ye North part of sd Canterbury to ye Honorable ye President and members of Council and house of Representatives of said State. We your Humble Petitioners Living at a great Distance from ye Center of the Towne Some of us nine or ten Miles and Consequently at a very great disadvantage in joining with them all Publick Town affairs, being encouraged Partly by our Living in that Part of ye Town that was Laid out for what was called ye upper Parish and Partly by ye Kind Reception our Request met with which we made to ye Town for a dismission but more particularly by our Confidence in your Honors desire to Promote ye Happiness of every Part of ye State Humbly Pray that Honors would take our Case into your Serious Consideration and grant that we together with all those Live in sd Upper Part may be Erected and Incorporated into a body Politick and Corporate to have Continuance in ye Name of Northfield with all such Powers and Authorities Privileges Immunities and Franchises with other Parishes or Towns in this State in General hold Enjoy with your Petitions as in duty bound Shall forever pray.”

The petition, signed by 43 residents, was approved by the state legislature, and the Town of Northfield was born.

In 1848, the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad opened to Northfield, helping it develop symbiotically with Tilton across the river as a mill town. The Winnipesaukee River provided water power for mills, and by 1859, when the population was 1,332, Northfield had a woolen factory and a wrapping paper mill.

Northfield continued to combine a strong industrial base with a healthy agricultural community throughout the 19th and most of the 20th centuries. Early sawmills and gristmills gave way to large textile and paper mills. As these industries died out in the area many old mill buildings were torn down. Others were used for the manufacture of other items, including optical lenses and lead batteries.


Nature's Beauty
View from the Winnipesaukee River Trail

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 29.0 square miles (75.1 km2), of which 28.8 sq mi (74.6 km2) is land and 0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2) is water, comprising 0.89% of the town. It is drained by the Merrimack River, primarily by way of the Winnipesaukee River and its tributary Williams Brook. The town is characterized by gently rolling hills, the highest point in town being the summit of Bean Hill at 1,500 feet (460 m) above sea level, near the southern border. Two significant water bodies in Northfield are Sandogardy Pond in the southwest corner of town and Knowles Pond on the east side of town.


Northfield is located in central New Hampshire and is served by several state and federal transportation routes. Interstate 93 runs through Northfield and serves the town with one partial exit and one nearby exit. Exit 19, closest to the center of town, allows for entry onto the southbound lanes of I-93 and exit from the northbound lanes. A full I-93 interchange, exit 20, is located less than a mile from Northfield, in the neighboring town of Tilton.

Northfield is also crossed by New Hampshire Route 132, which provides north–south access parallel to Interstate 93. New Hampshire Route 140 runs east–west and crosses the northern tip of town, connecting Tilton with Belmont, Gilmanton, and Alton. The combined U.S. Route 3/NH Route 11 runs east–west through Tilton, just north of the town line with Northfield.

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is the nearest major airport, located 40 miles (64 km) to the south.

Distances to area cities:


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 606
1800 925 52.6%
1810 1,057 14.3%
1820 1,304 23.4%
1830 1,169 −10.4%
1840 1,413 20.9%
1850 1,332 −5.7%
1860 1,051 −21.1%
1870 833 −20.7%
1880 918 10.2%
1890 1,115 21.5%
1900 1,227 10.0%
1910 1,474 20.1%
1920 1,522 3.3%
1930 1,336 −12.2%
1940 1,543 15.5%
1950 1,561 1.2%
1960 1,784 14.3%
1970 2,193 22.9%
1980 3,051 39.1%
1990 4,263 39.7%
2000 4,548 6.7%
2010 4,829 6.2%
Est. 2015 4,808 −0.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
Memorial Arch of Tilton 1882
Tilton Memorial Arch (1882) in Arch Hill Park in Northfield, offering a commanding view of the area

As of the census of 2000, there were 4,548 people, 1,706 households, and 1,211 families residing in the town. The population density was 158.0 people per square mile (61.0/km²). There were 1,782 housing units at an average density of 61.9 per square mile (23.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.18% White, 0.13% African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.42% Asian, 0.15% from other races, and 0.95% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.92% of the population.

There were 1,706 households out of which 38.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.0% were non-families. 20.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the town, the population was spread out with 27.9% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 32.0% from 25 to 44, 23.6% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 98.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $44,333, and the median income for a family was $48,787. Males had a median income of $33,051 versus $25,000 for females. The per capita income for the town was $18,466. About 0.9% of families and 3.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.4% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.

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