Photo courtesy of Everett Rust
The first recorded exploration
by the Colonial Government of what is now
occurred in late July and August of 1754. Captain Peter Powers and company
at its mouth on July 28, traveled up the Ammonoosuc, and proceeded north
through what is now
. They returned by the same route a few days later.
was originally charted in 1761 and rechartered in 1765 and contained a little
less than six square miles. The first town meeting was in 1784. Initial
settlement took place along the Ammonoosuc and
, and the first settlers were subsistence
farmers who produced nearly everything needed for food, clothing and shelter.
The earliest houses in
were log cabins. However, none of these are known to remain. Soon the center of
activity shifted to
and the first meeting house in town was erected there in 1792. By the early
had become the social, political, and industrial center of town.
The first industries supported the rural way of life with blacksmith shops
for making horseshoes and nails, wheelwrights building and repairing wagons and
sleighs, gristmills for grinding wheat into flour; and sawmills preparing lumber
for building. Barter was the "coin of the realm," and taxes assessed
for roads were paid by working on the roads. Produce was hauled to
by horses or shipped to
and traded for what could not be produced locally.
is divided into
, Swiftwater, Carbee, Getchell,
, Pettyboro, and Nutter Districts. Originally 13 schools were distributed
through the town, and each district had, to varying degrees, other institutions,
churches, and businesses. Water power provided by the Ammonoosuc and
, as well as many of the smaller streams, drove the early mills and other
and Swiftwater were the commercial engines of the town. Industries
included a woolen factory, a creamery, a distillery, and at least two factories
that made starch from potatoes. The practice of jurisprudence was
important to the town through the nineteenth century. Logs were floated down the
Ammonoosuc, Wild Ammonoosuc, and
to mills in the town and beyond. Mining of various minerals flourished briefly.
With the coming of the railroad in 1850,
"going below" became quicker and easier.
has evolved with the passing of time and shifting economic and demographic
center remains the focus of the town, both socially and economically, a variety
of moderate and small businesses are now found throughout the town. Agriculture
and forestry remain important. Only one business in the town now relies on water
power. Fundamental Solutions, Inc., located
in the old leatherboard mill, generates electricity by waterpower that it sells
along with a variety of other products. Canoes, kayaks, and tubes are the
major users of waterpower in the town today.
Electricity and the internal
combustion engine have replaced waterpower and beasts of burden, and the
railroad has come and gone. Improved roads and more reliable year round
transportation have played a role in the development of the town. Education has
been centralized, and nonagrarian residential development has spread.
once supported 13 Schools. Today the
, located in the village, teaches grades K-6. Most of the older students
continue their schooling at
or Woodsville. Twelve cemeteries once served the town. While only five of these
continue in active use, all save one whose exact location is lost to time are
maintained by the town and provide vivid windows into the past settlement and
decentralized character of
Population peaked in the early
19th century (1,623 in 1830) and the trend was a decline in residents
through the late 20th century (604). This trend has reversed and the
population of Bath
has shown a steady increase.
is no longer a farming/industrial/judicial center, but is becoming a bedroom
community for the nearby towns of