Governor’s Island is a part of the Town of Gilford in Belknap County, which is located in the picturesque Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Gilford was first settled in 1777. It was originally considered the Gunstock Parish section of the Town of Gilmanton, and it wasn’t until 35 years later, in 1812, that the Town of Gilford was independently established.
The Gilford name comes from a resident who was in the revolutionary war and wanted to commemorate the “Guilford Court House” revolutionary war battle. By mistake, the town name was spelled Gilford, without the letter “u” on the incorporation documents, and this resulted in the present spelling. Gilford has the distinction of being the only town in New Hampshire named after a revolutionary war.
Throughout the 1800’s Gilford was primarily an agricultural community. Tourism didn’t begin until around 1850 when the Cocheco Railroad brought the first visitors from Dover to Alton Bay. The Mount Washington Steamboat came to Lake Winnipesaukee in 1872. Then in 1890, the Lake Shore Railroad extended service to Lakeport, which is now part of the neighboring town of Laconia.
To supplement their income, many local farms began accommodating the summer visitors. By 1895, island properties were being actively marketed for seasonal use and winter sports enthusiasts were coming to Gilford for cross-country skiing and ski-jumping. Alpine skiing became popular in the 1930’s, and Gilford was the destination of the first famed “snow train” transporting skiers from Boston to what is now the Gunstock Recreational Area.
Gilford currently has a population of about 7,500. It has the benefit of a small town ambiance, but with a nationally-ranked school system and a wholesome, upscale quality of life. For more information about Gilford, visit the websites and town attractions listed below:
Ellacoya State Beach and RV Park
Swimming, Picnics, Camping
600 feet of sandy beach
37 RV sites by reservation only
Located at 266 Scenic Road/Route 11
Belknap Mountain Range and Trail System
The Belknap Mountain Range is comprised of 12 mountains including Major, Gunstock, Anna, Klem, Mack, Piper, Rower, Straight Back, West Quarry, Whiteface and of course, Belknap.
The Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook
Meadowbrook is a seasonal outdoor amphitheater. It showcases seasonal concerts by well-known entertainers and other performing events.
Tannery Hill Covered Bridge #68
Article at NewHampshire.com
Gilford has it’s own 42-foot covered bridge that crosses over Gunstock Brook. It was gifted to the Town of Gilford in 1995 and is located behind the municipal building on Route 11A.
Sawyer’s Dairy Bar
This is a well-known seasonal restaurant that’s been operating since 1945. It’s famous for ice cream, lobster rolls and fried foods.
Beans and Greens Farm
A seasonal “fresh, healthy, local” farm that sells fresh veggies, organic foods, baked goods and plants. Beans and Greens has farm animals on site and also offers a variety of summer festivals and an autumn corn maze. Located at 245 Intervale Road.
Gunstock Adventure Park
55 ski trails, seasonal zip lines, treetops adventure for adults and children, segway tours and hiking. Located at 719 Cherry Valley Road.
Smith Farm Stand (maple sugaring)
Pick your own raspberries and maple sugaring. Operated by Nathan and Carolyn Smith. Located on Sleeper Hill Road.
Kimball Castle and Lockes Hill Trail
Kimball castle was completed in 1899 by railroad mogul Benjamin Ames Kimball. Gilford purchased 260 acres of the 300-acre estate and created hiking and skiing trails. 1.7 mile loop, accessed from Route 11, is easy-to-moderate and family friendly. Leashed dogs are okay
Ramblin’ Vewe Farm
The farm has a herd of purebred sheep and is dedicated to preserving the heritage of a working farm. Educational/recreational activities and trail system offered to connect people, communities and land. Located on Morrill Street.