Often hidden on the back roads and byways of the Granite State, country stores are an essential and beloved part of the state's character. Developed from trading posts as travelers settled throughout the state, they are recognizable for their vast array of merchandise and a fragrant blend of tobacco, spices and coffee. The country store became the center of the community, where residents could play checkers, mail letters, attend town meetings and shop. They are still fixtures in many towns today, including the Brick Country Store in Bath, considered to be the oldest in the United States, dating back to 1790; Fadden's General Store and Sugarhouse in North Woodstock, which produces award-winning maple syrup; and the Old Country Store in Moultonborough, which had its beginnings as a tavern. Historian Bruce D. Heald, PhD, chronicles New Hampshire's historic country stores and the keepers behind these unique local landmarks.