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Several sites along the Contoocook River in Hopkinton and Henniker had thriving Abenaki communities for thousands of years which eventually disappeared in the face of white settlers. Two local sites include the confluence of the Hopkinton and Warner Rivers in Hopkinton, and a site near the Hopkinton/Henniker border. For the site located on the Hopkinton/Henniker border, the area of the village sites was cut in half when construction of the Everett Dam started in 1959.

To visit the area near the confluence of the Contoocook and Warner Rivers, you can go to the LLewellyn Bandstand that is off Depot Ln on the south side of the Contoocook Railroad Covered Bridge.

To visit the area near the Hopkinton/Henniker line, you can go to Amey Brook Park on the Old Concord Rd. in Henniker.

River Sites

World, Slope, Map, Font

Paint, Rectangle, Natural landscape, Terrestrial plant

If you want to understand Abenaki history, you have to look at it from the river. The Contoocook River was the travel route, connecting people of the Monadnock region to the Merrimack River and far beyond. Visitors entered villages from the river; imagine approaching the village of your relations while you are in a canoe, and your kin are greeting you from the clearing by the river’s edge. Those clearings were along the Contoocook River, and were the entrances to villages such as the one by the Hopkinton-Henniker town line and the one by the confluence of the Warner and Contoocook Rivers (paddle east from here to go to that confluence; or go to the Hopkinton Historical Society to see the pottery shards, mortar and pestle, fishing tools, and woodworking tools from that site). The river had important portage areas, too, like falls and rapids, where people stopped to pick up resources, like cedar and other offerings of the trees. Many of the programs of the Abenaki Trails Project have been paddles in the Contoocook River, the Warner River, and more. The rivers and lakes continue to be a lifeblood for Abenaki people.

The land of the Confluence of Warner and Contoocook River Site was once a thriving village of Abenaki natives. Like many Abenaki villages it was probably a semi-permanent site with the Abenaki living there for one part of the year and growing corn and other vegetables along the river, and moving on to another site for the remainder of the year. The Abenaki tribe that dwelled in this location were the Penacooks, and many artifacts of their lives have been plowed up during agricultural cultivation and found along the banks of the two rivers. Hopkinton and Henniker Historical societies each have a mortar and pestle.

The village name for this site where the Penacooks stayed was called, in English, The Place of the Nut Trees/ The Place of the Butternut Trees, due to the great abundance of Butternut trees that once grew extensively in the area. These nut trees, combined with the access to two rivers, could have been the reason that the area was settled by the Penacook in the first place.

  • Life and times in Hopkinton, N.H. (Charles Chase Lord)
  • Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk