Once a part of Gilmanton called Gunstock Parish, the town was named for a key battle at the end of the revolution, the Battle of Guilford Court House, North Carolina. Sargent Lemuel B. Mason, who had fought in that battle, had retired to Gunstock Parish. In 1812, he successfully proposed incorporation of a new town to be named Gilford. North Carolina’s Guilford Court House has long since been renamed Martinsville. The original name is used by the Gunstock recreation area on Belknap Mountain.
The community’s roots are firmly embedded in agriculture and it remained the primary pursuit throughout the 19th century. Nevertheless, other industries flourished over the years, including blacksmiths, cobblers, brickworks, a cooperage and sawmills. Gilford’s first sawmill opened in 1788, followed by others in 1825 and 1890. The ensuing years brought diversified businesses, such as mills, general stores, furniture makers, tanneries and even a short-lived silk-making operation.
Later on, by the turn of the century, winter sports became the favorite past time of athlete enthusiasts and Gilford became the stomping ground. Cross-country skiing and jumping were the first ski activities enjoyed by residents and visitors alike as well as Alpine skiing. Gilford was the destination of the first famed “snow train” transporting skiers from Boston to what is now the Gunstock Resort of today.
The Mountains in Gilford draw out door lovers for hiking trails with magnificent views of Lake Winnipesaukee as well as beautiful rustic lodges to just dream away the evenings on a porch over looking her broad waters. Truly Gilford has charm and history giving any one who explores here all the memories they could ever need.