Over a distance of 1.2 miles, in the center of Bennington, the water level of the Contoocook River drops seventy feet. That source of power at the "Great Falls of the Contoocook" is what induced Joseph Putnam in 1782 to purchase land on the east side of the river for the construction of a grist mill. Settlers had preceded him, of course. Farmers and herdsmen began moving into what was known as Society Land as early as 1753. Most of the towns in the region were incorporated in the 1770-1790 period. Bennington emerged from the non-corporated land that was left and, combined with a portion of Hancock along the river known informally as Factory Village, became the Town of Bennington, incorporated finally in 1842.
The falls of the Contoocook, aided by dam construction, remained the community’s point of distinction. A cotton mill followed the Putnam gristmill in 1810. A tannery, a handmade paper operation and a tool manufacturing industry followed them.
In 1835, the first papermaking machinery was installed at or near where the Monadnock Paper Mills, Inc. (MPM) is located today. Because of the movement westward, a changing economy and the discovery of alternative sources of power the early industries have all passed on. By contrast, the MPM plant has not only grown, it has maintained its vitality to the present day as a producer of a variety of specialty paper products for commerce industry and education. It has the distinction of being the longest single family-owned paper-manufacturing firm in the nation.
Bennington has gone through the herdsmen-to-farmer-to-merchant-to-mill worker cycle. Many of our residents are still employed at area plants; but for most of our citizens the town is considered a quiet residential community from which to commute elsewhere to work.
We are a member community of the Contoocook Valley School District. Most of Bennington’s 1,400+ residents are here because they like the place and the people. We hope you do too.
You’re invited to come and see for yourself.