Moving a NH Town: The Story of Hill Village NH

The Massive Project of Moving an Entire Town

Why would anyone want to move an entire town?
What could be so important that such a project would ever need to done?
Has this ever happened in New Hampshire?

Imagine leaving for work in the morning, going about your day as you normally do every other day. Then, after a long and stressful day, you head home to cook dinner and try to relax. However, when you get home, you find that you need to move. Yes, that’s right…move! Not only you though, everyone in your neighborhood has to move and beyond that, everyone in the entire town has to move! Why you ask? Well, we will get to that later but first, let’s talk about the town of Hill, NH.

Hill, NH was established in 1753 as the town of New Chester. Then, in 1837, it was changed to the name Hill. It was renamed Hill because the townspeople thought there were already too many communities with the name Chester in the state. The town was named after Isaac Hill. So who is Isaac Hill? Isaac Hill was New Hampshire’s governor from 1836-1839. So, let’s talk a bit about Isaac Hill. He was born in West Cambridge, MA on April 6, 1789. He went to schools in both West Cambridge and Ashburnham, MA. Afterwards, he worked at a print shop in Amherst, NH as an apprentice. In 1809, Isaac moved to the town of Hill, NH, where he owned and operated the New Hampshire Patriot newspaper until 1829.

Isaac Hill served in the New Hampshire State Senate from 1820-1823 and then from 1827-1828. He was also Clerk of the New Hampshire State Senate from 1819-1825. In 1826, Hill served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. From 1829-1830, he served as Second Comptroller of the United States Treasury, after being appointed by President Andrew Jackson. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1831, serving until 1836, when he was elected Governor of New Hampshire.

After being Governor, Isaac Hill served as the Sub treasurer of the United States Treasury in Boston, MA from 1840-1841. He also owned and operated Hill’s New Hampshire Patriot newspaper from 1840-1847. Hill died in Washington, DC on March 22, 1851 and was buried in Concord, NH at Blossom Hill Cemetery.

Okay, back to the town of Hill. The United States Census Bureau states that the town measures a total of 26.9 square miles, with 26.7 square miles being land and 0.2 square miles being water. The highest point in the town is Dickinson Hill, located about 1,910 feet above sea level. As of the 2010 United States Census, Hill featured 1,089 residents.

Before the 1930’s, Hill was much like any other small, rural New Hampshire town. There was one street in the town and the railroads ran along the banks of the Pemigewasset River. There were small farms here and there in Hill and the majority of the residents worked right in the town.

In the early part of 1937, the townspeople learned that because of the construction of the Franklin Falls Dam, their little town would either have to be destroyed or relocated. The goal of the Franklin Falls Dam was to prevent flooding to those communities that were set downstream when high water events occurred. The Army of Corps of Engineers proposed to construct a flood control dam. The Pemigewasset River was prone to flooding due to the fact that it carried off the snow that melted from the White Mountains.

For three years, the residents of Hill weighed all of the options available to them. They made the decision to move the town, a project which began in the early part of 1940. The town’s residents purchased land and started building their town from scratch. By the summer of 1941, the new town already had a town hall, streets, water system and 30 homes. By 1942, most of the town was completed and residents started moving in to their new town. There isn’t much of the old Hill Village that is present today, except remains and its history.

 

And old foundation and stairs leaves an eerie imprint on the  landscape of Hill Village
An old foundation and stairs in the old Hill Village, NH

 

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