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Canaan is a town in Grafton Countymarker, New Hampshiremarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 3,319 at the 2000 census. It is the location of Mascoma State Forest. Canaan is home to the Cardigan Mountain Schoolmarker, the town's largest employer.


Chartered in 1761 by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth, the town probably took its name from the hometown of early settlers from Canaanmarker, Connecticutmarker, which was named for the Biblical land of Canaan. Settled in 1766, it would be incorporated in 1770 by Governor John Wentworth. The town was once a stagecoach stop.

In March 1835, 28 white students and 14 black students commenced classes at the newly established Noyes Academy. On August 10, 1835, white residents of Canaan, with the help of neighboring towns and "nearly 100 yoke of oxen," forcibly removed Noyes Academy from its foundation. Later, the community would be a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Canaan was the site of a famous train wreck on September 15, 1907. Four miles north of Canaan Station, the southbound Quebecmarker to Bostonmarker express, heavily loaded with passengers returning from the Sherbrooke Fair, collided head-on with a northbound Boston & Maine freight train. Twenty-five people perished, and an equal number were seriously injured. Cause of the accident was "due to a mistake in train dispatcher's orders."

Notable inhabitants


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of , of which is land and is water, comprising 3.31% of the town. Canaan is drained by the Mascoma Rivermarker. Canaan Street Lakemarker is in the center, and Goose Pondmarker is in the northwest.

The town center lies in the valley of the Indian Rivermarker (a tributary of the Mascoma) at the base of Mount Cardiganmarker, which lies to the east in the neighboring town of Orangemarker. A mountain road leads from Canaan to a trailhead in Cardigan Mountain State Forest, where hiking trails on the west slope of the mountain lead to the bare-rock summit. The highest point in Canaan is the top of an unnamed ridge (approximately above sea level) in the northeast corner of town, overlooking Derby Pond.

Canaan lies almost fully within the Connecticut River watershed except for a tiny part of the northeast of the town, which is in the Merrimack River watershed.


High School in 1911
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,319 people, 1,279 households, and 929 families residing in the town. The population density was 62.4 people per square mile (24.1/km²). There were 1,588 housing units at an average density of 29.8/sq mi (11.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.13% White, 0.12% African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.21% from other races, and 1.05% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.51% of the population.

There were 1,279 households out of which 36.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.2% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.3% were non-families. 21.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.00.

Mount Cardigan in 1910
In the town the population was spread out with 27.0% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 31.3% from 25 to 44, 26.1% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $43,220, and the median income for a family was $46,339. Males had a median income of $32,946 versus $25,000 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,515. About 2.9% of families and 6.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.6% of those under age 18 and 12.4% of those age 65 or over.

Sites of interest

1907 Train wreck in Canaan.


External links

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