Jan's Blog

Once Upon a Time…Waterville Valley was first in the nation

January 10, 2012

Long before Dixville Notch became famous for hosting the first-in-the-nation primary, there was a midnight primary held right here in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. 

This small community captured national attention in 1952 (and every four years into the 1960s) when about a dozen residents cast their votes at midnight, giving the majority to Dwight Eisenhower.

The Waterville Valley primary had garnered national media attention and attracted a pair of unlikely tourists. H.A. and Margret Rey, authors and illustrators of the Curious George books, took the train up to see Democracy in action.  As refugees from the Nazi’s march across Europe, they had a special appreciation for voting. 

In 1949, Richard Upton helped pass legislation allowing the people to vote directly for the presidential candidates instead of voting for delegates. In 1952, New Hampshire voters cast their votes in the state’s first true primary – and the first votes were cast right here in Waterville Valey.

In 1977, delegate names were removed from the ballot and a law enacted that eliminated any possible future encroachment on the state’s first-in-the-nation primary status, and New Hampshire has held the first primary in the nation since that law passed in 1977.

Waterville Valley has a long political tradition.  In the 1960’s, Robert Kennedy helped and encouraged his friend Tom Corcoran –a two time Olympic skier – in his purchase of the Waterville Valley ski resort.  The popular “Bobby’s Run” ski trail was named in honor of Robert Kennedy following his death in 1969.

In 2010, the political powerhouse Sununu family purchased Waterville Valley ski resort, keeping ownership under local control. John Sununu was the governor of New Hampshire for three consecutive terms in the 1980’s.

Today is the New Hampshire Presidential Primary.  Get out and vote. The Waterville Valley polls are open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Recreation Department’s Multi-Purpose Room.

About Jan Stearns

I've been living in and loving New Hampshire's White Mountains for most of my life. I moved to Waterville Valley in 1981 and quickly realized why it was dubbed a Yankee Shangri-la. Once you’ve experienced Waterville Valley, you’ll want to call it yours. The great team of Realtors at Waterville Valley Realty can help you find a Waterville Valley home that fits your lifestyle and budget. 1-888-987-8333.

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