Coös County, usually spelled Coos County, is a county in the U.S. state of New Hampshire thaat occupies the whole of the state’s northern panhandle. The two-syllable pronunciation is sometimes indicated with a dieresis, notably in the Lancaster-based weekly newspaper The Coös County Democrat and on some county-owned vehicles. The county straddles two of the state’s tourism regions. The southernmost portion of the county is part of the White Mountains Region and is home to Mount Washington. The remainder of the county is known as the Great North Woods Region. Coös occupies the largest area of any New Hampshire county, but has the smallest population: 33,055, as of 2010. It is the only New Hampshire county to have lost population between the 2000 and 2010 censuses. The county seat is Lancaster. Major industries are forestry and tourism, with the once-dominant paper-making industry in sharp decline. Coös County is part of the Berlin, NH–VT Micropolitan Statistical Area. It is the only New Hampshire county on the Canada-United States border, located adjacent to the Canadian province of Quebec, almost exactly due south of Quebec City.
Coös County was separated from the northern part of Grafton County, New Hampshire and organized at Berlin on December 24, 1803, although the county seat was later moved to Lancaster, with an additional shire town at Colebrook. The name Coös derives from the Algonquian word meaning small pines. During the American Revolutionary War two units of troops of the Continental Army — Bedel’s Regiment and Whitcomb’s Rangers — were raised from the settlers of Coös. From the Treaty of Paris of 1783 until 1835 the boundaries in the northern tip of the county (and New Hampshire itself) were disputed with Lower Canada (which was soon to become part of the Province of Canada), and for some years residents of the area formed the independent Republic of Indian Stream. In the 1810 census there were 3,991 residents, and by 1870 there were nearly 15,000, at which point the entire county was valued at just under $USD 5 million, with farm productivity per acre comparing favorably with that of contemporary Illinois. Other early industries included forestry and manufacturing, using 4,450 water horsepower in 1870.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,831 square miles, of which 1,800 sq mi is land and 31 square miles (1.70%) is water. Much of its mountainous area is reserved as national forest, wilderness, state parks and other public areas; these encompass most of the northern portion of the White Mountains, including all the named summits of the Presidential Range (though one, Mt. Webster’s, lies about 200 feet (61 m) from the county line). Mt. Washington’s peak is the highest in the Northeast. The 162-mile Cohos Trail runs the length of the county. The principal state highways in Coos County are New Hampshire Route 16, which runs mostly parallel to the Maine state line, and New Hampshire Route 26, which traverses the Great Northern Woods from Vermont Route 102 southeast to Maine Route 26 towards Portland. The two major US Highways are US Route 2, which roughly bisects the county from Lancaster to the Oxford County line, and US Route 3, which runs from Carroll in the south to the Canadian border at Pittsburg/Chartierville, where it continues as Quebec Route 257.
Mountains of Coös County
- White Mountains (in the White Mountain National Forest)
- Presidential Range
National protected areas
- Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge
- Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
- White Mountain National Forest
As of the census of 2000, there were 33,111 people, 13,961 households, and 9,158 families residing in the county. The population density was 18 people per square mile. There were 19,623 housing units at an average density of 11 per square mile. The racial makeup of the county was 98.05% White, 0.12% Black or African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.37% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 1.00% from two or more races. 0.61% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 23.5% were of French, 19.8% French Canadian, 14.2% English, 10.2% Irish and 10.0% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 16.17% of the population speak French at home. There were 13,961 households out of which 28.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.30% were married couples living together, 8.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.40% were non-families. 28.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.82. In the county the population was spread out with 22.80% under the age of 18, 6.30% from 18 to 24, 26.70% from 25 to 44, 25.70% from 45 to 64, and 18.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 95.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.60 males. The median income for a household in the county was $33,593, and the median income for a family was $40,654. Males had a median income of $32,152 versus $21,088 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,218. About 6.80% of families and 10.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.70% of those under age 18 and 12.50% of those age 65 or over.
- WMOU – 1230 AM, Berlin – Nostalgia
- WKBR – 1450 AM, Lancaster – Construction permit (CP)
- WRTN – 1490 AM, Berlin – Construction permit (CP)
- WOTX – 93.7 FM, Groveton – Classic rock – “The Outlaw”
- WHOM – 94.9 FM, Mount Washington – Soft Adult Contemporary – “America’s Superstation” (serves Portland, Maine; broadcasts from Mount Washington)
- W238BP – 95.3 FM, Berlin – Hot Adult Contemporary – “Magic 104” – Rebroadcast of WVMJ, North Conway
- W251BD – 98.1 FM, Berlin – Hot Adult Contemporary – “Magic 104” – Rebroadcast of WVMJ, North Conway
- WNYN-FM – 99.1 FM, Jefferson – Adult Hits – “Free 99.1”
- WRNH – 101.5 FM, Groveton – Construction permit (CP)
- WXXS – 102.3 FM, Lancaster -Top 40- “Kiss 102.3”
- WPKQ – 103.7 FM, North Conway – Partial rebroadcast of WOKQ, Dover; (broadcasts from Mount Washington)
- WEVC – 107.1 FM, Gorham – New Hampshire Public Radio
- W34DQ-D – Pittsburg – Channel 34, rebroadcast of New Hampshire Public Television (NHPTV) W27BL – Berlin – Channel 27, rebroadcast of WMUR-TV (ABC)
Coös County is part of the Portland-Auburn DMA. Cable companies carry local market stations WPFO (Fox), WMTW (ABC), WGME (CBS), and WCSH (NBC), plus NHPTV, WMUR and select stations from the Burlington / Plattsburgh market. Sherbrooke stations CKSH-DT (Radio-Canada) and CHLT-DT (TVA), as well as Montreal station CBMT-DT (CBC) are also available, though reception and/or cable carriage may vary by location.
- The Colebrook Chronicle – Weekly published Fridays from Colebrook, circulation 6,000. Also produces weekly Video New of the Week embedded at website
- The Coös County Democrat – Weekly published Wednesdays from Lancaster
- The News and Sentinel – Weekly in Colebrook
- The Berlin Daily Sun
- The Berlin Reporter – Weekly published Wednesdays from Berlin
- Great Northwoods Journal – Weekly from Lancaster, circulation 8,900