Benton, New Hampshire

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Benton is a town in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 314 at the 2000 census. The 2009 population was estimated to be 343.[1] Located in the White Mountains, Benton is largely surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest. The town is crossed by the Appalachian Trail.

Contents

History

The town was granted by Governor Benning Wentworth on January 31, 1764 to Theophilus Fitch and others. It was named Coventry after Coventry, Connecticut, hometown to many of the settlers, who arrived shortly after the beginning of the Revolution.[2] At the suggestion of Governor Isaac Hill, the name was changed on December 4, 1840 to Benton,[3] in honor of Thomas Hart Benton, the Missouri senator who championed American westward expansion.

With a rough and mountainous terrain, the town was not suited for agriculture. But Benton had water power sites and abundant forests. By 1859, when the population was 478, there were five sawmills producing a large quantity of lumber. The Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad ran through the town, which once included the village of Glencliff.[2]

Atop Mount Moosilauke in 1860 was built The Prospect House, later renamed The Tip Top House, a stone hotel with accommodations for 35 hikers. A carriage road was built to the summit in 1870, so the hotel was enlarged in 1872 to accommodate 50 guests. In 1920, the hotel and land were given to Dartmouth College, but in 1942, The Tip Top House burned.[4]

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 48.4 square miles (125 km2), of which 48.2 sq mi (125 km2) is land and 0.2 sq mi (0.52 km2) is water, comprising 0.48% of the town. It is drained by the Oliverian Brook and Wild Ammonoosuc River. Benton lies almost fully within the Connecticut River watershed, although a small part of the southeast corner is in the Merrimack River watershed.[5] The highest point in town is the summit of Mount Moosilauke, at 4,802 feet (1,464 m) above sea level.

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