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Coos County, New Hampshire

Coos County, New Hampshire
Coös County Courthouse in Lancaster
New Hampshire

New Hampshire's location in the U.S.
Founded 1803
Seat Lancaster
Largest city Berlin
 • Total 1,831.18 sq mi (4,743 km2)
 • Land 1,800.39 sq mi (4,663 km2)
 • Water 30.79 sq mi (80 km2), 1.70%
 • (2010) 33,055
 • Density 18/sq mi (7/km²)
Congressional district , ,
Time zone

Coös County (/ˈk.ɒs/, with two syllables), usually spelled Coos County,[1][2] is a county in the U.S. state of New Hampshire, including the whole of the state's northern panhandle. As of the 2010 census, the population was 33,055,[3] the least of any New Hampshire county. The county seat is Lancaster.[4] The two-syllable pronunciation is sometimes indicated with a dieresis, notably in the Lancaster-based weekly newspaper The Coös County Democrat and on some county-owned vehicles.

Major industries include forestry and tourism, with the once-dominant paper-making industry in sharp decline. The county straddles two of the state's tourism regions. The southernmost portion of the county is part of the White Mountains Region and is home to Mount Washington. The remainder of the county is known as the Great North Woods Region.

Coös County is part of the Berlin, NH–VT Micropolitan Statistical Area. It is the only New Hampshire county on the Canada-United States border, located adjacent to the Canadian province of Quebec, almost due south of Quebec City.


Coös County was separated from the northern part of Grafton County, New Hampshire and organized at Berlin December 24, 1803, although the county seat was later moved to Lancaster, with an additional shire town at Colebrook. The name Coös derives from the Algonquian word meaning "small pines".[5]

During the American Revolutionary War two units of troops of the Continental ArmyBedel's Regiment and Whitcomb's Rangers — were raised from the settlers of Coös. From the Treaty of Paris of 1783 until 1835 the boundaries in the northern tip of the county (and New Hampshire itself) were disputed with Lower Canada (which was soon to become part of the Province of Canada), and for some years residents of the area formed the independent Republic of Indian Stream.

In the 1810 census there were 3,991 residents, and by 1870 there were nearly 15,000, at which point the entire county was valued at just under $USD 5 million, with farm productivity per acre comparing favorably with that of contemporary Illinois. Other early industries included forestry and manufacturing, using 4,450 water horsepower in 1870.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,831 square miles (4,740 km2), of which 1,800 sq mi (4,660 km2) is land and 31 square miles (80 km2) (1.70%) is water.[6] It is the largest county in New Hampshire.

Much of its mountainous area is reserved as national forest, wilderness, state parks and other public areas; these encompass most of the northern portion of the White Mountains, including all the named summits of the Presidential Range (though one, Mt. Webster's, lies about 200 feet (61 m) from the county line). Mt. Washington's peak is the highest in the Northeast. The 162-mile Cohos Trail runs the length of the county.[7]

The principal state highways in Coos County are New Hampshire Route 16, which runs mostly parallel to the Maine state line, and New Hampshire Route 26, which traverses the Great Northern Woods from Vermont Route 102 southeast to Maine Route 26 towards Portland. The two major US Highways are US Route 2, which roughly bisects the county from Lancaster to the Oxford County line, and US Route 3, which runs from Carroll in the south to the Canadian border at Pittsburg/Chartierville, where it continues as Quebec Route 257.

Mountains of Coös County

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201232,096−2.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
2012 Estimate[3]

As of the [1]

There were 13,961 households out of which 28.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.30% were married couples living together, 8.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.40% were non-families. 28.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the county the population was spread out with 22.80% under the age of 18, 6.30% from 18 to 24, 26.70% from 25 to 44, 25.70% from 45 to 64, and 18.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 95.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $33,593, and the median income for a family was $40,654. Males had a median income of $32,152 versus $21,088 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,218. About 6.80% of families and 10.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.70% of those under age 18 and 12.50% of those age 65 or over.


Presidential election results[10]
Year Democratic Republican
2012 57.9% 9,095 40.4% 6,342
2008 58.3% 9,532 40.1% 6,558
2004 50.7% 8,585 48.1% 8,143
2000 45.0% 6,570 50.2% 7,329


Unincorporated areas

In New Hampshire, locations, grants, townships (which are different from towns), and purchases are unincorporated portions [11] of a county which are not part of any town or city. They have limited self-government, if any, as many are uninhabited.

Media in Coös County

Radio stations

(Compiled from

Television stations

Coös County is part of the Portland-Auburn DMA. Cable companies carry local market stations WPFO (Fox), WMTW (ABC), WGME (CBS), and WCSH (NBC), plus NHPTV, WMUR and select stations from the Burlington / Plattsburgh market. Sherbrooke stations CKSH-DT (Radio-Canada) and CHLT-DT (TVA), as well as Montreal station CBMT-DT (CBC) are also available, though reception and/or cable carriage may vary by location.


  • Colebrook, circulation 6,000. Also produces weekly Video New of the Week embedded at website
  • Lancaster
  • Colebrook
  • Berlin
  • Lancaster, circulation 8,900

Popular culture

Robert Frost, who once lived in Franconia in neighboring Grafton County, wrote the poem "The Witch of Coös".

Coos County is the setting for the John Irving novel Last Night in Twisted River, Twisted River being a logging settlement in the county.

See also


Coordinates: 44°41′N 71°18′W / 44.69°N 71.30°W / 44.69; -71.30

External links

  • Coös County official website
  • University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Coös County office
  • National Register of Historic Places listing for Coos County
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