Once the virtual lumber capital of New England, this town in the valley of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset is now a year-round resort center. Lincoln was first granted in 1764 and named after Henry Clinton, the ninth Earl of Lincoln and a cousin of Governor Wentworth's family.
Settlement proceeded slowly, though in the mid-1800s tourists began arriving to see natural wonders such as The Flume, The Basin, and Indian Head. At that time most of the town's residents lived along the Franconia road, and visitors stayed at The Flume House (1848-1918) at the south end of Franconia Notch.
The area now known as Lincoln was called Pollard's and remained a rustic community until lumber baron James E. Henry pulled into town in 1892. In the 1880s this was the last outpost of civilization on the western fringe of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Adventurous visitors could stay at Pollard's mountain lodge and explore the "inner solitude" of the vast forest in the company of guides such as Dura Pollard and Levi Guernsey.
When the hard-driving Henry arrived on the scene, the town was suddenly transformed into a bustling logging center, complete with school, store, hotels, hospitals, mills, and housing for hundreds of workers, Lincoln's population jumped from 110 in 1890 to 541 in 1900 and 1,278 by 1910. The company-dominated town soon became known as "Henryville" or "Pullman."
At its height, the Henry Company owned 115,000 acres and employed 500 men. In a mere quarter century- from 1892 to 1917- their crews stripped the trees cover from a vast stretch of the once pristine East Branch country. Over two dozen rough-and-tumble logging camps were spread far and wide in the wilderness. Logging railroads laced the valleys east and north of Lincoln, bringing endless loads of virgin timber back to the saw, pulp and paper mills. Henry's ruthless clear-cutting methods, and the disastrous forest fires that followed, earned him such nicknames as " Wood Butcher" and "Mutilator of Nature." J.E. Henry died in 1912 and in 1917 his three sons sold the operation to the Parker-Young Company. East Branch logging continued on a scaled-down basis into the 1940s and the mills closed for good in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, several other developments led Lincoln in a new direction. By 1959 the scenic Kancamagus Highway had been completed, and later still, Interstate 93 had opened a high-speed avenue from Boston. In 1966 former Governor and Eisenhower chief of staff Sherman Adams created a new ski area on Loon Mountain. Soon the town had a completely different economic base: tourism. In recent years Lincoln has grown explosively as the ski area and its accompanying lodging, dining, shopping and second-home developments have flourished. In the 1980s the former mill buildings were renovated into a marketplace, hotel and arts center.
The Lincoln town center is stretched east and west along " The Kanc" (NH Rt.112), while the area know as North Lincoln hugs US Rt.3 south of Franconia Notch. Geographically, Lincoln is a huge town, taking in a great chunk of wild National Forest land and much of Franconia Notch State Park. It can lay claim to being the state’s most mountainous town, for the summits of 13 of New Hampshire’s 14 4,000-foot peaks are located within Lincoln (9) or along its border with Livermore (4). Forests, mountains, streams and ponds make this a recreationist’s paradise.
Dates and times were current at time of publication.