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Town of Dover
State: NH
County: Strafford


Water District Drinking Water Source

Cocheco River Watershed

Clark Brook flows into Dover from Rochester where it passes through a culvert under the Spaulding Turnpike. It runs south for a half mile, through an area of forest and wetlands until it joins Blacksmith Brook. This brook flows into Dover from Somersworth near several homes on Blackwater Road. It crosses under the road and then runs along a farm field before passing through a culvert under the Spaulding Turnpike. Over the next mile and three quarters the brook flows through undeveloped forest and its banks form a narrow marsh in places. Blackwater Brook flows into the Cocheco River just west of several large farms on County Farm Cross Road.

Reyners Brook originates in a marsh area near a subdivision on Varney Road. It flows past numerous homes in this residential area and passes through a culvert under the Spaulding Highway. On the other side of the highway the brook continues to flow past many homes as it parallels Reyners Brook Drive in a narrow marsh. The brook crosses 6th Street and forms another small marsh as it backs up behind a culvert on County Farm Road. Reyners Brook then passes the culvert and joins the Cocheco River.

Fresh Creek flows into Dover from Rollinsford and forms a pond behind a causeway on Gulf Road. The shores of the creek are bordered by several large farms and the Cocheco Country Club. Below the causeway the creek becomes brackish with incoming tidal waters. Here, a horse farm and fields behind several homes come right down to the water. Fresh Creek flows into the Cocheco River near a large estate at the end of Three Rivers Farm Road.

The Cocheco River spans the entire width of Dover. It enters from Rochester near a large gravel pit on Rochester Neck Road, and winds its way past a large Department of Corrections facility on County Farm Road. As it makes its way east the river passes numerous homes and passes under a bridge on Watson Road where it begins to parallel an old railroad track in an area of relatively little development. The Cocheco River flows under a bridge on the Spaulding Turnpike and passes into an area of dense development in the center of Dover. As the river enters the downtown area it passes a bridge on 4th Street, another below the railroad tracks, and then flows over dam upstream of the Chestnut Street Bridge. Shortly after this bridge, the river passes another dam at the site of several mill buildings built over the river, in the heart of downtown Dover. As it leaves the densest areas of town the Cocheco River more homes and businesses and then the Cocheco Country Club on its northern bank. For the next mile and three quarters, the shoreline of the river gradually transitions from dense buildings and pavement, to forest and farm fields, and the river becomes brackish with incoming tidal water. Finally, the Cocheco River converges with the Salmon Falls River at the New Hampshire and Maine border.

Salmon Falls River Watershed

Willand Pond lies across the Dover border with Somersworth in a dense residential and commercial area along New Rochester Road. There is a small park on this road with public boat access. The outlet of the pond is in Somersworth and eventually flows into the Salmon Falls River.

Garvin Brook flows into Dover from Somersworth in a wooded area east of Three Rivers Farm Road. It runs for a quarter mile and then joins the Salmon Falls River. The Salmon Falls River forms Doverís eastern border with South Berwick, Maine. The river here is broad and tidally influenced. It flows under the bridge on Gulf Road, passing several farms on its banks, and then converges with the Cocheco River.

Piscataqua River Watershed

The Piscataqua River begins where the Salmon Falls River and the Cocheco River converge. Its waters are brackish and influenced by the incoming tides. The Dover shoreline is well developed with homes along Middle Road and Dover Point Road. The development becomes denser as the river moves south and then passes into Newington.

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Water District: Dover Water Department
District Website: http://www.ci.dover.nh.us/
Water Source: Cochecho River
# Accts Serv: 7500
Other Towns: none
Sewer District: Dover Sewer District
District Website: http://www.ci.dover.nh.us/community/wast...
Receiving Waters: Cochecho River
# Accts Serv: 7500
Other Towns: none
(Click the Title of the article to learn more.)
Dover Master Plan
Publications, Websites, and Tools

Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Community Assistance Providers
Provides education, outreach, research, and stewardship in support of estuaries and rivers.

Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire
Community Assistance Providers
A regional land trust serving 39 communities in southeastern New Hampshire

Seal:town seal, click to enlarge
Population:28422 (U.S. Census Est. 2006)
Area:26.7 square miles


Today, Dover, is a thriving service center. The mill buildings have been revitalized starting in 1984 and now numerous small businesses. Dover had an estimated population of 28,422 in 2006 (U.S. Census), which represents an increase of 1,429 (5%) since 2000. This is slightly lower than the 7.3% growth rate that Dover experienced between 1990 and 2000. Dover remains the Stateís seventh most populated community, and the second most populated in Strafford County. After the 2000 census, the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning projected that by 2010, Doverís population would be 29,310.

Economically, Dover acts as a hub for surrounding towns in Maine and New Hampshire. This is a homogeneous area, with many people working and shopping for goods and services in communities other than the one they live in. The region also attracts workers from other areas of New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts and serves as home for many people who commute out of the area on a daily basis.

Dover lies wholly within the Seaboard Lowland Section of the New England physiographic region that lies between the Atlantic shoreline west to a line along Route 125 in Barrington and Rochester. Elevations range from sea level along the Cityís tide water shorelines that extend up the Cochecho and Bellamy Rivers to the dams in downtown Dover to approximately 280 feet at the top of Garrison Hill near Wentworth- Douglas Hospital and the border with Rollinsford.

According to the Dover Master Plan, 2, 976 acres of land in Dover are considered to be protected open space. This includes a number of parcels managed by the state, including the Bellamy River Wildlife Management Area. In addition there are several privately held conservation easements and many small town owned parcels. While Dover contains several parcels which are owned and protected by the Conservation Commission, a significant portion of remaining land could be sold for development in the future. Approximately 220 parcels consisting of 5,237 acres of land are receiving the Current Use tax assessment for forest, agriculture or open space. Approximately 87 acres of land were removed from this category in 1998, indicating that although this program encourages open space protection, it does not do so in perpetuity.

Plentiful fishing is available in the rivers and ponds in Dover, as well as boating access on the Cocheco River and Willand Pond. The state managed Bellamy River WMA provides a large area for hunting.

to learn more see The Dover Master Plan


The area that includes Dover was called Wecohamet by native Abenaki Indians. Settled in 1623 as Hilton's Point by brothers William and Edward Hilton, Dover is the oldest permanent settlement in New Hampshire, and the seventh oldest in the United States.

Settlers felled the abundant trees to build log-houses called garrisons. The town's population and business center would shift from Dover Point to Cochecho at the falls, where the river's drop of 34 feet provided water power for industry. Indeed, Cochecho means "the rapid foaming water." Major Richard Waldron settled there and built a sawmill and gristmill.

Early Dover relied upon its rivers and waterfalls for transportation, commerce and industry. The Dover Landing area on the Cocheco River was once a lively trading center with wharfs, warehouses, docks and trading ships from many parts of the world. Numerous industries were housed in near by brick buildings. Following the advent of the railroad and the 1896 spring floods, most of this water-borne activity went into decline.

Doverís earliest days as a colonial seaport led to a successful shipbuilding industry in the 1700s, and it flourished in the 19th century as the nation's leading manufacturer of cotton goods. The development of a brick industry spanned decades of successful mill operations through the middle of the 20th century.

Located at the head of navigation, the falls of the Cochecho River helped bring the Industrial Revolution to 19th century Dover in a big way. The Dover Cotton Factory was incorporated in 1812, then enlarged in 1823 to become the Dover Manufacturing Company. In 1827, the Cocheco Manufacturing Company was founded (the misspelling a clerical error at incorporation), and in 1829 purchased the Dover Manufacturing Company. Expansive brick mill buildings, linked by railroad, were constructed downtown. Incorporated as a city in 1855, Dover was for a time a national leader in textiles. The mills were purchased in 1909 by the Pacific Mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts, which closed the printery in 1913 but continued spinning and weaving. During the Great Depression, however, textile mills no longer dependent on New England water power began moving to southern states in search of cheaper operating conditions, or simply went out of business. Dover's millyard shut down in 1937, and was bought at auction in 1940 by the city itself for $54,000. Now the old mills have become fashionable, and redeveloped into waterfront offices, restaurants and other modern uses.

Cocheco River passing through Dover
The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm, Wells, Maine Copyright 2006 All rights reserved. Collaboration with NOAA CSC, Charleston SC