Conant and ConVal students part of river celebration

A trestle from the railroad running through Hillsborough.

A trestle from the railroad running through Hillsborough. COURTESY PHOTO

Published: 06-06-2024 8:02 AM

A large 3D map made by students from ConVal, Conant and Hillsboro-Deering high schools, will be displayed as part of a Hillsborough Historical Society event celebrating the history of the Contoocook River at Kemp Park along the river in downtown Hillsborough Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8.

The event begins with middle-school students Friday morning, followed by homeschoolers Friday afternoon and the general public Saturday. Attendees can learn from the Nulhegan Band of the Western Abenaki the real name of the river and the importance of the river to both the Abenaki and the early white settlers.

There will be a walking tour where the railroad ran through the town and stories by local elders who worked or grew up by the trains. Locals who worked at the woolen mills that neighbors the site will also share stories.

People can explore Kemp Museum and a display of Mack trucks, and hear from the historical society about the stone barbecue oven used during Franklin Pierce’s presidential inauguration celebration on the site. Archaeologist Robert Goodby will share evidence of continued presence of Abenaki in the state over thousands of years.

A tour will find the native plants used by Abenaki for food, medicine and other uses, which the Abenaki taught the first settlers how to survive the climate of New Hampshire. A state forester will share about the tree from which the river gets its name.

Throughout both days, Abenaki artisans will give hands-on demonstrations of making baskets from an ash tree, pottery, milkweed fiber spinning and birchbark canoe construction. Both days will begin with Abenaki drumming and end with Abenaki singing about the river and of water.

The program is free to all children. Adult tickets are $10, seniors are $8, and tickets are good for both days. People can purchase tickets at historyalivenh.org, which also gives the schedule of events and other details.

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