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Town of Rochester
State: NH
County: Strafford


Water District Drinking Water Source

Cocheco River Watershed

Baxter Lake lies across Rochesterís northern border with Farmington, near Four Rod Road. The predominant development along the lake is the Grandview Campground, which includes dozens of campsites, trailers, boat slips, and facilities. A dam blocks the outflow of the lake at its southwestern corner. Here Rickers Brook passes the dam and flows into a small marsh, adjacent to Four Rod Road. The brook makes its way southeast, flowing through a small forested area between Meaderboro Road and Sampson Road. It passes several homes as it crosses under Walnut Street. Rickers Brook runs through another mile of forest until it meets Howard Brook.

Rochester Reservoir lies across Rochesterís border with Barrington, along Strafford Road. There is very little development along the shores of this impoundment, except for the dam at its northern end, and the Rochester Water Treatment Plant. Rochester Reservoir is a source of drinking water for the town. Howard Brook flows over the reservoir dam and runs east, through a small marsh area. The brook crosses Estes Road, where it passes near to several homes. It meets Rickers Brook not far from Estes Road, and the two smaller brooks combine to form Axe Handle Brook, which continues east through a half mile of forested and emergent wetland. Axe Handle Brook passes under Washington Street, and flows past several homes and a large gravel pit. It passes through a culvert under the Spaulding Turnpike and then turns south, along the highway. The brook then passes several housing complexes and a series of onramps for the turnpike, where it flows into the Cocheco River.

Hanson Pond is located in Squanamagonic Park, near Hansonville Road. This small pond is relatively undeveloped, except for the park facilities on its eastern bank. A small stream flows out of the southern end of Hanson Pond, and flows past numerous homes in a residential area along Flagg Road. The stream flows through a large farm field, and then a small marsh that borders a subdivision on Flagg Road. Finally the stream flows into the Isinglass River, which enters Rochester from Barrington. The river passes close to the subdivision and makes a dramatic turn south. It flows for a mile, passing many homes and a small commercial lot, before passing under Gonic Road and crossing back into Barrington. The Isinglass River passes into Rochester again south of the Turnkey landfill on Rochester Neck Road. The river passes under a bridge on this road and then joins the Cocheco River.

Clark Brook originates in a small forested wetland in eastern Rochester, north of the Spaulding Turnpike. It flows south along Blackwater Road, through the backyards of several homes. The brook then crosses under Blackwater Road and the Spaulding Turnpike, and crosses into Dover, on its way to join the Cocheco River.

The Cocheco River flows for over nine miles across the entire length of Rochester, beginning near several gravel pits, where it enters from Farmington. The shoreline of the river is developed for almost its entire length in Rochester beginning with dozens of homes and a few farms along Farmington Road. The river meanders dramatically as it passes a large junk car lot and then passes under a bridge on Little Falls Bridge Road. It turns south and runs past several large subdivisions and industrial sites between Farmington Road and Chestnut Hill Road. The Cocheco River passes under a bridge on the Spaulding Turnpike, where it enters a marsh area between commercial sites on North Main Street and a residential area to the east. The river passes the Spaulding High School as it enters downtown Rochester. It flows past dense residential neighborhoods and passes under two bridges, before encountering a dam in the heart of downtown. The river passes the dam and makes a large turn past the Rochester Fairgrounds. The Cocheco River runs past more dense residential areas as makes its way out of Rochester center. It crosses under a bridge on Gonic Road, and another on the Spaulding Turnpike, as it passes several businesses. The river passes another dam on Main Street and continues south, with several fairways at the Rochester Country Club on its west bank, and the sewage ponds of the Rochester Wastewater Treatment Pant on its east bank. The Cocheco River flows past the Turnkey landfill on Rochester Neck Road, and borders several large farms, as it passes into Dover near a large gravel pit at the southern tip of Rochester.

Salmon Falls River Watershed

Heath Brook drains a large emergent wetland between the New Hampshire Northcoast Railroad tracks and the Spaulding Turnpike. The brook flows around a rail yard and then passes through a large wetland on either side of the railroad tracks. The wetland is bordered by a large farm on Old Milton Road. The brook passes under this road and Milton Road in an area of highway exit ramps, and then turns east into a wide emergent wetland. Heath Brook flows through this wetland for over half a mile until it passes through a culvert under Salmon Falls Road, and flows into the Salmon Falls River.

The Salmon Falls River forms Rochesterís eastern border with Maine. The river flows out of the southern end of Spaulding Pond, which is formed by a dam at the Spaulding Fibre Company facility on Spaulding Avenue. The river flows over the dam and flows south past several large subdivisions, and two junk car lots along Milton Road. The Salmon Falls River passes under Flatrock Bridge, and forms a small oxbow near a farm on Salmon Falls Road. The river continues past a dozen homes along Salmon Falls Road, and then turns east. It next enters a residential area in East Rochester, and passes under a bride on Highland Street, where it forms a small reservoir behind another dam. The river then twists and turns through a forested wetland area near several cemeteries, and then enters a half mile stretch of forest. The Salmon Falls River continues to meander dramatically as it bends around a large subdivision off of Salmon Falls Road, and enters a series of wetlands. The shoreline becomes less developed as the river continues south, passing several farms and then crossing into Somersworth.

To see the locations of these resources in Google Earth follow this link.

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Water District: Rochester Water District
District Website: http://www.rochesternh.net/Public_Docume...
Water Source: Berry River Watershed
# Accts Serv: 29757 pop.
Other Towns: none
Sewer District: Rochester Sewer Division
District Website: http://www.rochesternh.net/Public_Docume...
Receiving Waters: Cocheco River
# Accts Serv: 29757 pop.
Other Towns: none
(Click the Title of the article to learn more.)
Rochester Master Plan
Publications, Websites, and Tools
Updates to the Chapters of the Rochester Master Plan.

Seal:town seal, click to enlarge
Population:30117 (U.S. Census Est. 2006)
Area:44.8 square miles


Rochester is the largest city in the seacoast region and fourth largest city in New Hampshire. Encompassing 48 square miles of rolling hills and rivers, Rochester is conveniently located only a short distance from New Hampshire's famous Lakes Region, the White Mountains, and the seacoast.

Rochester, while maintaining many small-town New England traditions, is becoming an important commercial center as evidenced by the recent growth of manufacturing and high-tech companies. At the same time, the city has recently given support to affordable housing through its financial support of a conversion of a former shoe factory into affordable housing units. Development in Rochester is centered around the core areas of downtown, the village of East Rochester, and the village of Gonic.

2006 Census estimates put Rochesterís population at 30,117. The State Office of Energy and Planning projects that Rochesterís population will increase to 32,930 by 2015. This growth will place added pressure on the Cityís dwindling undeveloped areas

Though agriculture is no longer a prominent industry in Rochester, a number of continually operating farms remain in the City. Roughly 6% of Rochesterís land area is in agriculture. This includes around 30 farms producing hay, vegetables, livestock, and apples. These farms still contribute significantly to the character of the city.

Rochester is 53% forested with around 15,000 acres of mixed hardwood, deciduous and coniferous forest. Many of Rochesterís forests have grown from abandoned agricultural land and clear-cut areas that have regenerated and matured over the last half century. Densely forested areas are located outside the urban core of the City, areas west of Route 16 and areas east of Route 108 to the Salmon Falls River.

Based on 2007 numbers, Rochester has close to 11,000 acres in current use tax status. This includes 1,930 acres of farmland and 8,062 acres of forest. However, this designation does not provide permanent protection and development incentives may decrease these numbers in the future.

Conserved and protected public land and privately owned lands comprise 718.1 acres or 2.5 percent of the total area of Rochester, the majority is held in conservation by the Strafford Rivers Conservancy. In addition the City manages a number of small parcels including the Rochester Reservoir, which is the city drinking water source, and the Town Forest. The Salmon Falls and Cocheco River offer many opportunities for fishing in Rochester as well as boating access. Baxter Lake is also accessible to boats.

to learn more see The Rochester Master Plan


Rochester was once inhabited by Abenaki Indians of the Pennacook tribe. They fished, hunted and farmed, moving locations when their agriculture exhausted the soil for growing pumpkins, squash, beans and maize.

Hostilities between Native Americans and colonists delayed settlement until 1728, although attacks would continue until 1748. By 1738, Rochester was home to 60 families. Early dwellings clustered together for protection, beginning near Haven Hill.

The first large business was lumbering, although it would be overtaken by other industries as Rochester developed into a mill town with the Cochecho River to provide water power. In 1806, 6 tanneries were operating, along with a sawmill, fulling mill, and 2 gristmills. The Mechanics Company was established in 1834, producing woolen blankets. The Norway Plains Woolen Company manufactured blankets used by the Union Army in the Civil War, but by century's end was out of business. In 1854, the E.G. & E. Wallace Shoe Company was established, eventually becoming the city's biggest employer, with over 700 workers in 1901. Its name changed to the Rochester Shoe Corporation in the 1920s.

Goods produced at the mills were transported to market by four railroads which once passed through Rochester, a major junction between Haverhill, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine. Agriculture continued to be important, and in 1875 the Rochester Fair was established. In 1891, Rochester was incorporated as a city. During the Great Depression, however, several industries left for cheaper operating conditions in the South or went bankrupt.

Cocheco River at Gonic Mills
City of Rochester
The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm, Wells, Maine Copyright 2006 All rights reserved. Collaboration with NOAA CSC, Charleston SC