Roadside History: The Two-Mile Streak in Barrington

September 22. 2017 6:38PM

New Hampshire historical marker number: 96.

Date established: 1974 in Barrington.

Location: On the east side of Route 125, about 1½ miles south of Route 9 before Winkley Pond.

What the sign says: "Granted in 1719 to encourage industrial development in the province and called New Portsmouth, this two-mile wide strip of land was set aside to provide homesites for imported workers at the Lamprey Ironworks. Wood from this strip was converted to charcoal for the Ironworks. Absorbed by the 1722 Barrington Grant, the area retains its identity as The Two-Mile Streak. Descendants of early settlers still live here."

The back story: The town was made up of two land grants, the first containing all of Strafford and present-day Barrington, and the second covering a parcel 2 miles wide and 6 miles long called New Portsmouth, or the Two-Mile Streak.

In return for donations the town of Portsmouth made to Harvard College in 1669, the General Court of Massachusetts in 1672 granted the town land for a village. Portsmouth didn't apply for that grant until 1719, after discoveries of iron ore in parts of New Hampshire. Wealthy town merchants wanted to build an ironworks on the Lamprey River for manufacturing, but first they wanted a tract of land that would furnish fuel and where they could settle laborers.

They were granted the 2-mile-wide slip of land at the head of the Dover line, also known as the Two-Mile Slip.

The merchants never developed the ironworks, so had no need to settle workmen in the slip. At town meeting in 1722, voters supported dividing the village of New Portsmouth among the residents of Portsmouth.

The Two-Mile Streak became part of Barrington when it was incorporated in 1722, but settlement was slow because of rocky soil. The first settlements in the Two-Mile Streak were made between 1732 and 1740.

By 1810, Barrington had 3,564 residents, then the state's third largest town. Its primary industry was iron ore smelting. The Isinglass River, together with its tributaries, provided water power for grist, fulling and saw mills. In 1820, Strafford was set off from Barrington because of lengthy travel required to attend town meetings, reducing its land area by about half.

Sources: Wikipedia; "Annals of Portsmouth" by Nathaniel Adams; and "History of Strafford County New Hampshire and Representative Citizens" by John Scales.


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