The Upper Valley region includes a variety of topography from the foothills of New Hampshire's White Mountains and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the rolling agricultural land along the Connecticut River. Hanover is centrally located in the valley at the intersection of state highways 89 and 91, just two hours from Boston, four and a half hours from New York City and three hours from Montreal. New Hampshire's state capital, Concord, is about an hour away as is Montpelier, the capital of Vermont.
The Hanover charter was granted in 1761 and the first permanent settlers arrived from Connecticut in 1765. Today, the most populated area of town is near the river and the College. The more rural sections of the town include Hanover Center and Etna. Hanover enjoys a lively, traditional business district and beautiful countryside. In Lebanon, on the edge of the Hanover/Lebanon town line, is the new Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Lebanon is a retail/commercial and light industry center supported by a commercial airport.
In over two centuries of evolution, Dartmouth College has developed from its roots on the colonial frontier into a college that has a special character and a unique place in private higher education. An Ivy League institution, Dartmouth College enrolls approximately 4,300 undergraduates in the liberal arts and 1,200 graduate students. It is home to the nation's fourth oldest medical school: the Dartmouth Medical School, founded in 1797; the nation's first professional school of engineering: the Thayer School of Engineering, founded in 1867; and the first graduate school of management in the world: the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration, established in 1900.
Each Upper Valley town has its own distinctive character and beauty. On the Vermont side, White River Junction (part of the Town of Hartford) is reminiscent of the glory days of the American railroad. Today, passenger service by Amtrak's "The Vermonter" makes daily stops in White River. Norwich, just north of White River Junction, is a charming New England community that maintains its own special character while enjoying inter-relationships with Hanover and other communities. Norwich and Hanover make up the Dresden School District (the first inter-state school district in the nation created in 1963) that includes the Richmond Middle School and Hanover High School.
Some people might think of the area as "isolated northern woods." While there are a lot of woodlands and conservation and protection of the forests, open meadows, hillsides, and waterways, the Upper Valley is readily accessible in any season by train, plane, bus and automobile on well-maintained roads and interstate highways. Some visitors actually hike into the area via the Appalachian Trail (Maine to Georgia) that meanders through Hanover, up and down Main Street (business district) and crosses the Connecticut River into Norwich.
Beyond the central geographical core of the Upper Valley is an array of charming and distinctive communities and villages. One of the special qualities of the area is the combination of micro-urban environments with quiet, rural hamlets and open spaces only minutes apart. There are lifestyle choices; from rural living to in-town convenience; from larger communities to small villages; from farm and horse country to resort and recreational communities.
The economy in the Upper Valley is robust. The major employers include Dartmouth College, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Research & Engineering Lab (CRREL), and a number of research and development and light manufacturing companies that provide a stable foundation for employment and commerce. Biomedical, engineering and computer software research and development firms continue to emerge. The unemployment rate in the region has been consistently the lowest in both states.
The Upper Valley is blessed with a wide array of shopping and dining options. There are retail businesses from mom and pop type stores to chain retail centers. There are strip and indoor malls in Lebanon to traditional Main Streets and business districts in Hanover and White River Junction. where there are lots of specialty shops and dining establishments.
Cultural and academic activities are centered at Dartmouth's Hopkins Center for the performing arts and the Hood Museum of Art. Year round, there are conferences and lecture series including special events at the graduate schools and The Rockefeller Center for the Social Sciences.
Several communities have local theater groups and art exhibits and galleries, including the AVA Gallery in Lebanon. The Montshire Museum of Science, located on the banks of the Connecticut River in Norwich, offers indoor and outdoor exhibits and programs for all ages, all year long. Public libraries in the towns are well-used and cherished institutions.
Recreational opportunities abound. There are more than 15 ski areas within 1 1/2 hours of Hanover. The Connecticut River is just one of hundreds of rivers, streams, ponds and lakes offering a variety of canoeing, motor boating, rowing, sailing, and swimming. There are family campgrounds, picnic areas, and nature, walking and hiking trails and networks. Bicycle paths are emerging to connect downtowns and more rural areas with employment centers. Once completed, the multi-use Northern Rail Trail of Grafton County, NH, will offer access for hiking, bicycling, skiing, horseback riding and snowmobiling. There are numerous golf courses and ski areas within a short drive from most corners of the Upper Valley. And, of course, hunting and fishing are popular sports in the "north country."
The Upper Valley is a great place to live and work, but there are some very special reasons why natives, "near natives" and newer residents call the Upper Valley home. It is a quiet place... the pace is slower than lots of other places. Low levels of crime, noise, and pollution contribute to a sense of being safe. The beauty of the landscape, mountain and valley views, pastures and dense woodlands, rivers and lakes, stone walls, rural and village character, and the quality of fresh air and water combine to make this place special. The charm of this valley can be found in its history, cultural sophistication, socioeconomic and political mix, good neighbors, spectacular beauty and educational and recreational opportunities. The Upper Valley is a very special place to enjoy -- for a day, a leisurely weekend or a lifetime.
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