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Weirs Beach has been habitated for thousands of years. Recent archeological expeditions at the beach have found that Native Americans used the area as a summer camp for hunting and fishing as long ago as 8000 B.C.

The native Abenaquis, members of the Penacook tribe, called their village Aquedoctan, meaning "place of good fishing". For fishing, they built a special type of basket, called a WEIR, to capture the abundant fish (shad) that migrated through the Weirs Channel on their way from Lake Winnipesaukee to the Merrimac river to the sea. Several WEIRS went into the channel to block the shad from passing through, effectively trapping them.

In 1652 an expedition sent by the colonial Governor Endicott of the Massachusetts Bay Colony followed this trail of water in reverse, discovering Lake Winnipesaukee upon arriving at Weirs Beach. Endicott Rock was then carved with the initials of the explorers to mark the northern boundary of the colony.

The rock is still there today, protected by a monument erected in 1892. The first white men to settle permanently in the area arrived in 1736, with the construction of a fort. This marked the end of the era of Indian habitation of Weirs Beach.

When did tourists begin to arrive in Weirs Beach?

In 1848, the Boston, Concord, and Montreal railroad reached Weirs Beach, making it easily accessible to New Englanders. Weirs Beach grew to become one of the most popular tourist destinations in New England. By the turn of the century, four express trains left Boston's Union Station each day bound for Weirs Beach. After peaking in 1915, train service from Boston began a long, slow decline, culminating with the end of service in 1960.

In 1849, in a shrewd business move to increase rail passenger traffic to Weirs Beach, the Boston, Concord, and Montreal railroad purchased the steamship the Lady of the Lake. From its home base in Weirs Beach, the Lady of the Lake offered regular, comfortable service to the Lake Winnipesaukee ports of Wolfeboro, Center Harbor, and Alton Bay, until its last excursion in 1893.

The original Mount Washington, owned by the competing Boston and Maine railroad, began service in 1872. It was longer, faster, and more luxurious than the Lady of the Lake.

In 1939 the original Mount Washington burned and sank. It was the end of the steamship era on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Besides tourists, who else came to Weirs Beach?

In the early 1870's, Methodists discovered that Weirs Beach provided the perfect setting for their summer religious meetings. In 1874, 13 acres were purchased for a "camp-meeting ground."

By the 1890's, the Methodist campgrounds had evolved into a densely settled colony of cottages and cabins close by the lake.

In 1879, fourteen years after the Civil War, the New Hampshire Veterans Association held their first annual reunion at Weirs Beach. Purchasing a large tract of land on Lakeside Avenue from the railroad, they constructed a series of Victorian buildings, one for each regiment, in the style of the times.

Known as the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) buildings, many of these grand old buildings are still standing today.

Every four years, New Hampshire natives recall another type of person who often came to Weirs Beach - POLITICIANS! Several US Presidents have visited Weirs Beach. Among them, President Theodore Roosevelt, who stayed at the New Hotel Weirs in 1904. More recently, George Bush, who visited in 1988, while campaigning for the Presidency.


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