W hen we decided to see whether there were 603 reasons that New Hampshire is a special place, we knew who to ask first — the 1,000-plus people who “like” the Derry News on Facebook.
We were not disappointed.
In fact, we had to cut it off at 603, but the responses kept coming.
There’s no shortage of pride and passion for the Granite State — from natives, transplants, even those who have left physically, but still keep New Hampshire close to their hearts.
Many people spoke of the state’s physical attributes and beauty, from the shores of Canobie Lake to the scenery along the Kancamagus Highway, especially in the fall.
Some waxed eloquently and some very specifically.
“The color of the big oak tree in front of Robert Frost Farm in early October,” Ann Madden wrote. “It is the most breathtaking tree I have ever seen.”
Apples and local orchards were popular, too.
They’re magical for Lorralyn Juergens all year long.
“I have to say the apple orchards from the winter to the fall. Winter offers cross-country skiing through the orchards, spring offers walking through the multitude of blossoms, summer offers the view of growing apples and picnics at available picnic tables,” she wrote. “Fall, of course, offers harvest season picking a delicious apple right off the tree. This is my kind of heaven and is why I moved to Londonderry all those years ago.”
People mattered to our readers, too, from the well known, including Alan B. Shepard Jr. and Robert Frost, to the ordinary residents who make the state what it is.
Here’s what Rachel Bradley Logan wrote, which reflects comments by many others.
“I really love New Hampshire because of the warm and welcoming people I have met,” she wrote. “When we moved here four years ago from Florida, in January right after the huge ice storm, we were so pleased to have such wonderful neighbors, teachers, and community that helped us acclimate and feel at home.”
Attractions were high on a lot of lists. Clark’s Trading Post was a favorite. Santa’s Village and the cog railway were popular, too. Natural attractions, including specific lakes and rivers, mountains, beaches and state parks, were mentioned often.
History figured into a lot of answers — the Mast Tree Riot in Fremont, logging and paper mills up north, textile mills, and numerous inventions all were included.
Things New Hampshire doesn’t have figured rather prominently — no sales or income tax, no seat-belt or helmet laws, no mandatory car insurance. But some said the lack of those taxes and laws comes at a cost. We’ll see how high that cost is.
We could write endlessly about the submissions and each one’s role in shaping New Hampshire. Over the next 12 months, reporters will look deeper into the list, separate fact from fiction in some cases, and investigate why some of these hundreds of people and places matter.
We had a good time compiling the list and we learned a lot along the way. We hope to learn more in the year ahead.
Sometimes you really do need to pause and take stock to appreciate what you have.