Conway is a town in Carroll County, New Hampshire, United States. It is the most populous community in the county, and the most populous in the state north of Laconia. The population was 10,115 at the 2010 census, more than 1/5 of the total population of Carroll County. Parts of the White Mountain National Forest are in the west and north of the town. Cathedral Ledge (popular with climbers) and Echo Lake State Park are in the west. Villages within the town include Conway, North Conway, Center Conway, Redstone and Kearsarge, as well as a portion of the village of Intervale.
The region was once home to the Pequawket Indians, an Algonquian Abenaki tribe. Along the Saco River they fished, hunted or farmed, and lived in wigwams sheltered within stockades. In 1642, explorer Darby Field of Exeter paddled up the Saco in a canoe, and would report seeing "Pigwacket," an Indian community stretching from present-day Conway to Fryeburg, Maine. The Pequawket tribe dwindled from disease, probably smallpox brought from abroad. In May 1725, during Dummer's War, 36 men from Dunstable, Massachusetts led by John Lovewell skirmished with the Pequawket. The Pequawket losses are not known but the result of the day's battle was the withdrawal of the tribe from the area.
In 1765, Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth chartered sixty-five men to establish "Conway", named for Henry Seymour Conway, Commander in Chief of the British Army. To keep his land, a settler had to plant for every fifty in his share, and to do it within five years. The first roads were built in 1766. Construction of the first meetinghouse began at Redstone. Never completed, it could only be used in summer, with services held whenever a minister visited. Eventually, the partly finished meetinghouse was moved to Center Conway. In 1775, the town raised small sums to build two schoolhouses, one in North Conway. By 1849, however, the town had twenty school districts.
By the middle-19th century, artists had discovered the romantic beauties of the White Mountains, and "Artist Falls Brook" became a favorite setting for landscape paintings. King Edward VII would buy twelve White Mountain paintings to hang in Windsor Castle. Among the artists to work here were Asher B. Durand and Benjamin Champney, the latter known to paint Mount Washington while sitting in the middle of Main Street.
Since the 1930s, the population of the nearby city of Berlin has decreased significantly, from 20,018 in 1930 to 10,051 in 2010. This decline, coupled with the population increase in Conway and the surrounding community, has led to higher levels of economic development in the Conway area than the rest of northern New Hampshire. Conway has both a tourism-based economy and service economy. As of 2002, the largest employer in the town was Memorial Hospital, employing 350 people, followed by the Conway School District, Hannaford Bros. Co., Red Jacket Resorts, and Walmart.