Atkinson Celebrates 250: Natural Features Good for Farming

The American Chestnut is being reintroduced to Atkinson, N.H., after blight all but eliminated the species. (Photograph courtesy of Steven Lewis).

Atkinson, N.H., is celebrating its 250th anniversary with a variety of events between Thursday, Aug. 31 and Monday, Sept. 4. To help give meaning to the festivities, WHAV presents a special series of little known facts about the town, heard on-air at 97.9 WHAV FM, Monday through Thursday, at 7:45 and 11:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Atkinson Celebrates 250 is brought to you, in part, by RMON Networks.

Atkinson’s natural meadows were welcome additions to the landscape that attracted European settlers, but had long-served native Americans, says historian Steven Lewis.

“Atkinson has a certain thing that would have attracted Indians as well as what attracted Europeans. Atkinson had naturally occurring meadows that didn’t have trees and is a very unique soil condition which creates natural meadows.”

Colonists dammed up a naturally occurring stream, forming Hovey Meadow Pond, to create a fresh water supply and provide a supply of ice. There were other benefits, Lewis explains.

“Around the edge of the meadow, sassafras would grow and they used those twigs to make tea and use the sticks for medicinal purposes because it is an astringent. Because it was moving active water along the edge, it was a perfect scenario of a field, clean water and not woods they had to be cut down.”

Atkinson Celebrates 250 is brought to you, in part, by Red's Shoe Barn of Dover and Plaistow, N.H.

On top of that, Lewis explains, the meadows attracted wildlife, giving settlers turkeys and deer to supplement their food supply.

At one time, 30 to 40 percent of Atkinson’s trees were American Chestnut, but they were nearly wiped out by blight. Lewis said, efforts are underway to raise disease-resistant trees.

Atkinson’s formal celebrations begin Aug. 31. A full calendar of activities appears at atkinsonnh250th.com.

Tomorrow: Atkinson Celebrates 250: Atkinson Academy