Alton is situated in Central New Hampshire and is part of Belknap County. It encompasses 82.2 total square miles, 62.9 of which is land and 19.3 of which is water. The town was originally settled in 1770 by a group of farmers from Roxbury, Massachusetts, and was first named New Durham Gore. In 1796, after merchants had begun to move into the area, the town was incorporated, and its named changed to Alton.
The town is home to two forests, the Alton Bay State Forest and the Mount Major State Forest. It also includes several bodies of water, including Lake Winnipesaukee, Merrymeeting River, Mount Major, Alton Bay, Merrimack River, Wolfeboro Harbor and Piscataqua River. In fact, Alton has more inland water than any other town or city in the state of New Hampshire.
As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Alton was home to 5,250 people. Over the years, Alton has been called home by several notable people, including NHL players Bobby Carpenter, Steve Leach and Don Sweeney. George Franklin Drew, former governor of California, and Al Jolson, a turn-of-the-century entertainer, also lived in Alton for a time.
Alton is run by an elected Board of Selectman. Currently, the board includes Chairman David Hussey, Loring Carr, Cydney Shapleigh Johnson, Marc DeCoff and Peter Bolster. The town operates its own police department and has a municipal fire department and emergence medical services department. Children in the Alton area attend schools in the Alton School District, which includes six elementary schools, one middle school, one high school and the Motivational Achievement Center, a school designed for disabled children in kindergarten through eighth grade. There are several notable sites in the Alton area, including the Alton Historical Society & Museum, the Harold S. Gilman Museum and Alton Bay, where residents can play mini-golf, arcade games and more.