Rockingham Rambles

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[Author & Newspaper Not Known]

c. 1938

Compiled by John M. Holman, Contributing Writer

A visitor to Hampton, who had not seen the old town since the celebration 50 years ago (1888), would be more than amazed were he to land near the site of the old town pump. He would find most of the old landmark obliterated, moved about or so altered to be unrecognizable.

The old grade crossing is gone, replaced by the overhead bridge, as a result of the demolition of a trolley car by a fast night train, and what was a peaceful country highway, traversed by the horse and buggy and the ox-cart, is now a speedway of a great national thoroughfare.

The trolley, which did much to develop the community, has come and gone the way of the stage coach.

Like other towns in the county, many industries have vanished. The salt works at Hampton River are gone, leaving scarcely a trace of their existence. Fishing for shipment elsewhere has been abandoned. Fish were formerly taken by horse and cart across the state to Keene, and the route traversed is still known in places as the "Fish Road."

Long ago the old tide mill ceased to operate, and the old grist mill on the Nilus River (lower High Street) has not ground grain for many a year. Ship building has become a memory.

New industries have sprung up. The town has been more or less of a shoe center the last half century, but during the last few years the greatest industries of all, the feeding and entertaining of visitors, has advanced beyond the most fanciful dreams of the old timers.

The broiled live lobster, the hot dog, the fried clam and the ice cream cone have entrenched themselves in the town. The lobster, once in little favor, has come into its own. In olden times, many a farmer has fed at one meal to the inmates of his (pig) sty, enough lobsters to now retail for $50.

Incident to this industry new callings have sprung up, the very names of which would be unintelligible to our ancestors, while the fishing, lobstering and clamming have gone on apace in the endeavor to fill the demands of the local market.

Many natural landmarks remain, Rivermouth Rocks are still on guard, the big elm is a little bigger, Great Boar's Head has eroded a little, Ship Rock still stands in the "Twelve Shares," but, now concealed by a forest sprung up, can no longer fulfill its mission to guide the returning fisherman or mariner to his safe mooring.

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