Town Meeting launched a citizens’ committee in 1994 to work toward creation of a “riverwalk” along the Contoocook, with eventual consensus that the trail sections near the downtown would be paved and outlying sections left more natural.
Built in phases, what soon was named the “New Common Pathway” begins at the Noone Falls area in south Peterborough and follows the Contoocook River corridor north by a combination of the old rail bed, sidewalks through the downtown area, and two highway underpasses built for the trail.
The Pathway offers easy walking on level terrain, and the paved portion (Noone Falls to Southfield Lane) is plowed by the town in winter. There are Pathway parking areas out along Summer Street, and on Route 202N near the underpass that connects with the Old Railroad Trail and a 2.7-mile stretch on into Hancock—on land conserved by donation, conservation easement deed, and purchase of a trail easement.
Most of the Pathway follows the old rail bed. In 1871, through the work of selectmen and citizen committees, and money voted at Town Meeting, rail and its transforming commerce finally reached Peterborough when the Winchendon line was extended. More committee work, lobbying, and investment extended the line north to Hillsborough and Concord in 1878.
Photo by Annie Card