Lincoln is a town in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States. It is the second-largest town by area in New Hampshire. The population was 1,662 at the 2010 census. The town is home to the New Hampshire Highland Games and to a portion of Franconia Notch State Park. Set in the White Mountains, large portions of the town are within the White Mountain National Forest. The Appalachian Trail crosses in the northeast. Lincoln is the location of the Loon Mountain ski resort and associated recreation-centered development.
The primary settlement in town, where 993 people resided at the 2010 census, is defined as the Lincoln census-designated place (CDP) and is located along New Hampshire Route 112 east of Interstate 93. The town also includes the village of North Lincoln and the former village sites of Stillwater and Zealand (sometime known as Pullman) in the town's remote eastern and northern sections respectively, which are now within the White Mountain National Forest.
In 1764, Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth granted to a group of approximately 70 land investors from Connecticut. Lincoln was named after Henry Fiennes Pelham-Clinton, 2nd Duke of Newcastle, 9th Earl of Lincoln – a cousin of the Wentworth governors. He held the position of comptroller of customs for the port of London under George II and George III, which was important to trade between America and England.
The town was settled about 1782. The 1790 census indicates that it had 22 inhabitants. Rocky soil yielded poor farming, but the area's abundant timber, combined with water power to run sawmills on the Pemigewasset River and its East Branch, helped Lincoln develop into a center for logging. By 1853, the Merrimack River Lumber Company was operating. The railroad transported freight, and increasingly brought tourists to the beautiful mountain region. In 1892, James E. Henry bought approximately of virgin timber and established a logging enterprise at what is today the center of Lincoln. In 1902, he built a pulp and paper mill. He erected The Lincoln House hotel in 1903, although a 1907 fire would nearly raze the community. Until he died in 1912, Henry controlled his company town, installing relatives in positions of civic authority.
In 1917, Henry's heirs sold the business to the Parker Young Company, which in turn sold it to the Marcalus Manufacturing Company in 1946. Franconia Paper took over in 1950, producing 150 tons of paper a day until bankruptcy in 1971, at which time new river classification standards discouraged further papermaking in Lincoln.
Tourism is today the principal business. Nearby Loon Mountain has long drawn skiers, and in recent years has attempted to convert itself into a four-season attraction. The Flume is one of the most visited attractions in the state. Discovered in 1808, it is a natural canyon extending at the base of Mount Liberty. Walls of Conway granite rise to a height of 70 to 90 feet (21 to 27 m) and are only 12 to 20 feet (2.5 to 6.0 m) apart.