Granite State of Mind, #92: Lincoln
Updated: Feb 13, 2022
Lincoln is an odd little duck of a town. Actually, it's not all that little, the second largest town in the state by area at over 130 square miles (less than half the size of the largest, the nearly 300 square mile Pittsburg, New Hampshire's capstone that borders two states and Canada). Much of that real estate includes huge swaths of the White Mountain National Forest and Franconia Notch State Park. Mount Hancock, Loon Mountain, the Flume, and the western half of the Kanc are included in Lincoln's far-flung borders, as is a section of the venerable Appalachian Trail.
Yet when I think of Lincoln, I think of the 1,700-soul village that embraces the confluence of Route 3, Route 112, and Interstate 93 North. Here, in this modest settlement, the New Hampshire North Country is on full display - a once-rugged logging center trying desperately to reinvent itself as a playground for the affluent. This is a place of tourist-tenders and townies, of ski bums who work the resorts in exchange for lift tickets and jobless millworkers who once labored at the shuttered Franconia Paper. The downtown that hugs Route 112 is equal parts quaint and rustic, authentic and artisanal. As New Hampshire slowly becomes Epcot New England, selling flinty flannel as bottled local flavor, Lincoln is front and center. Come see the locals at their coffee shops, eating donuts and voting for angry politicians promising yesterday! Come to Clark's Trading Post to buy your ski wax, your moose Christmas ornament, and your maple syrup, then go back to New Jersey with Yankee fragrance still on your sweater.
Lincoln, by the way, doesn't owe its name to Honest Abe. It was named after the 9th Earl of Lincoln in the 1760s, a London customs official the NH colonial governors sought to butter up. Oh, and the Earl of Lincoln's real name was Henry Fiennes Pelham-Clinton. Yeah, the next time you're on your way to Loon Mountain, stop in at Flapjacks and tell the proud residents of Lincoln their town is actually named after a Clinton. Actually, if truth be told, Clinton beat Trump in Lincoln last year, 408-367. Looks like the tourist-tenders are winning.