Merrimack Valley

The Merrimack Valley is a bi-state region along the Merrimack River in the U.S. states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The Merrimack is one of the larger waterways in the New England region and has helped define the livelihood and culture of those living along it since native times.

Major cities in the Merrimack Valley include Concord, Manchester and Nashua in New Hampshire, as well as Lowell, Lawrence and Haverhill, in Massachusetts. The Merrimack Valley was a major center of the textile industry in America during the 19th century.

Merrimack Valley
The Merrimack River in Haverhill, Massachusetts and Newburyport, Massachusetts
Long-axis directionNorthwest–southeast
Location Massachusetts
 New Hampshire
Population centers
In New Hampshire
In Massachusetts
Borders onWhite Mountains
Plum Island, Massachusetts
Atlantic Ocean
Traversed byInterstate 93, Interstate 495, Haverhill Line (MBTA)
RiversMerrimack River

Geography and demographics


Merrimack Valley Map
Towns in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts

The Merrimack Valley area in Massachusetts is a community of towns and cities surrounding the Merrimack River along the New Hampshire border, a portion of which is defined by a line approximately 3 miles from the Merrimack. The cities (marked with italics) and towns in this area are[1]:

The population of the region in 2010 was 631,477 residents, or slightly more than the city of Boston's at the time, and about one tenth of the state.

The Merrimack Valley contains a mixture of 19th-century industrial cities and mill complexes built to take advantage of the river's waterpower, modern suburbs (many built over towns dating from the 17th century), and some relatively rural areas. The western portion, including Greater Lowell and Haverhill/Lawrence/Methuen, is generally more urbanized than the eastern portion. The entire Merrimack Valley region within Massachusetts is a component of Greater Boston.

Automobile travel through the Massachusetts section of the Merrimack Valley is served primarily by Interstate 495. From Lowell and Lawrence, U.S. Route 3 and Interstate 93, respectively, head north along the valley, joining in Manchester, New Hampshire.

New Hampshire

Merrimack Valley NH
Towns in the Merrimack Valley of New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, the Merrimack Valley Region is an area of the south-central portion of the state, approximately 35 miles (56 km) wide, centered on the Merrimack River and running from Canterbury[2] south to the Massachusetts border. Henniker marks the western extent, and Nottingham the east. It includes portions of Hillsborough, Rockingham and Merrimack counties, namely the following towns and cities (in italics):

The state capital of Concord, and the state's two largest cities, Manchester and Nashua are located within the valley. Manchester boasts a large regional airport, with scheduled commercial services.

To the east is the Seacoast Region, to the west is the Monadnock Region, and the Lakes Region is to the north.

Interstate 93 bisects the region which is also served by Interstate 293, U.S. Route 3 and many New Hampshire state highways.

History and culture

Lowell skyline
The second largest city on the Merrimack River, Lowell, owes its existence to the waterpower the river provided to run her mills.


The original settlers of the Merrimack Valley were various tribes of the Pennacook Indians. The river provided an easy means of transportation, an exceptional source of salmon as well as other fish, and the land along the river banks was suitable for hunting and sometimes farming. However, much of the soil is full of granite, and the pine forests provide poor soil.

Colonization and the early federal period

The earliest European records of the river date to a French expedition under Pierre du Guast, Sieur de Monts, in 1605. By 1629, the British were moving into the area, and a land grant delineated by the river was made to a Jonathan Wheelwright in 1629.[3]

The city of Newburyport, first settled in 1635, at the river's mouth, became an important shipbuilding center during the colonial era, using lumber floated downriver from the White Mountains. Its prominence was diminished when the Middlesex Canal was completed in the first quarter of the 19th century, allowing lumber to be shipped directly downriver from the White Mountains to Charlestown, Massachusetts, and improving connections between Boston and the Merrimack Valley. Prior to this time, other small canals had been built around falls and rapids to make the Merrimack navigable, such as the Pawtucket Canal at East Chelmsford, which became Lowell.

Industrial revolution

The Amoskeag Mills in West Manchester, New Hampshire, circa 2006. The massive structure once housed the largest cotton textile manufacturing plant in the world. Since the late 20th century, it has been rehabilitated for mixed use development.

While the Merrimack had been used for small manufacturing concerns for decades, in the early 1820s, a group of investors from Boston founded the city of Lowell, to take advantage of the 32-foot (9.8 m) drop of the Merrimack over the Pawtucket Falls. Lowell, the first large-scale planned textile center in America, remained the nation's largest into the 1850s. Textile production spread up and down the Merrimack Valley in both states for the next century, but eventually was eclipsed after the Second World War.

Manchester's Amoskeag Mills was once the largest cotton textile plant in the world. Other major textile companies based in the Merrimack Valley included the Merrimack Manufacturing Company in Lowell, the American Woolen Company in Lawrence (headquarters moved to Andover in 1919), Pemberton Mill in Lawrence, and the Nashua Manufacturing Company in its namesake city. Lawrence was the site of the Bread and Roses strike, a landmark event in the history of labor relations in the United States.

Modern era

Merrimack River watershed

After World War II, the textile industry collapsed rapidly. After a few decades of stagnation, the "Massachusetts Miracle" came to the valley, bringing the headquarters of Wang Laboratories to Tewksbury, then Lowell. Apollo Computer located in Chelmsford and Nashua Corporation in Nashua moved beyond printing to computer products. The defense industry, for example, Raytheon in various sites and Sanders Associates in Nashua, became a major local employer. Increased development pressure from Greater Boston and the proliferation of the automobile pushed development outside of Massachusetts Route 128 to Interstate 495 and up Routes 3 and 93 into southern New Hampshire, greatly increasing the populations of these communities over the postwar years.

2018 gas leaks disaster

On September 13, 2018, several gas lines suffered leakage due to high pressure in the tubes of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, a subsidiary of NiSource. As a result, several fires and explosions occurred, homes were evacuated.[4][5]


The Merrimack River Valley is considered the "Valley of the Poets"[6] by some local artists and poets.

Anne Dudley Bradstreet was a founding mother of three towns in the Massachusetts Bay Colony: Boston, Cambridge (then Newtowne), and the original Andover Parish, known now as North Andover, where she lived and wrote for the last half of her life. The first published poet of the New World, she died in North Andover in 1672.[7]

In Haverhill and Amesbury, the family of John Greenleaf Whittier settled. Mr. Whittier was so well thought of during his lifetime, his birthday was celebrated as a national holiday.

Lawrence is the birthplace of actress Thelma Todd, composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein and actor/singer Robert Goulet. Robert Frost spent his teenage years there, as did his future wife, Elinor Miriam White[8] They were co-valedictorians (1892) at Lawrence High School.[9] Actress Bette Davis and the writer Jack Kerouac were born in Lowell.

The Merrimack Valley is one of the few places in the United States where the card game Forty-fives is popular.

The Merrimack Valley's leading boarding schools, such as Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts; Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts; the Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts; St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire; and The Governor's Academy in Newbury, Massachusetts, provide cultural institutions to the public, including the Addison Gallery of American Art and the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology in Andover and the Christopher Brodigan Gallery and the de Menil Gallery in Groton.



The Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts is divided into three New England city and town areas (NECTAs) by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget: Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH; Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, MA-NH; and Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, MA-NH. Most large employers are in the sectors of health care and higher education.[10][11] Institutes of higher learning include Hockey East rivals UMass Lowell and Merrimack College. The region was once a technology hub, reaching its peak during the 1970s and 1980s with corporations such as Wang Laboratories in Lowell among the largest technology employers, though it has since gone defunct. Software company Kronos Incorporated is one of the largest private employers in the region, as is Philips, whose medical division is based in Andover. The defense industry also has had a major presence in the Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts-based Raytheon has several large plants and offices in the Merrimack Valley, and BAE Systems Inc. also employs many people. Due to its proximity to Boston, the region also serves as a bedroom community for employers in Boston. Many major highways (including I-93, I-95, and US 3) and several heavily used lines of the MBTA Commuter Rail system provide easy access to the city from the Merrimack Valley.

New Hampshire

While the textile industry that served as the underpinning of the Merrimack Valley has disappeared, the region has since transferred to other economic activities. Sanders Associates, a major defense contractor based in Nashua has, through several mergers and acquisitions, become a division of BAE Systems Inc. and is one of the regions largest employers. Technology companies also have a large presence in the region, including mobile phone company Verizon, which is the largest private employer in Manchester. The financial industry is also a major employer, with Lincoln Financial in Concord and Fidelity Investments in Merrimack among the largest private employers.

The area between Manchester, Nashua, and Salem was once described as the "Golden Triangle" of New Hampshire. The name was due to job growth that fueled a housing boom and led to the creation of several major new retail centers, including the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, and the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua.[12] This area contains roughly 30% of the population of New Hampshire.[13]

Attractions include:

Institutions of higher education include:

See also


  1. ^ "Cities & Towns in the Greater Merrimack Valley". Merrimack Valley Massachusetts. Retrieved 2019-05-18.
  2. ^ "New Hampshire Regions: Merrimack Valley [map]". Visit NH. NH Division of Travel and Tourism Development. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  3. ^ Pendergast, John (1996). The Bend in the River. Tyngsborough, Massachusetts: Merrimack River Press. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-0962933806.
  4. ^ Eagle-Tribune, The. "1 dead, at least 25 injured in Merrimack Valley gas disaster". Eagle-Tribune. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  5. ^ Writer, Kelsey Bode Staff. "Merrimack Valley gas disaster similar to 1990 Danvers emergency". Salem News. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  6. ^ "Valley of the Poets Walking Tour". March 22, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  7. ^ "Charlotte Gordon - Mistress Bradstreet". Retrieved 2015-03-13.
  8. ^ "Elinor Miriam White Frost (1873 - 1938) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2015-03-13.
  9. ^ "Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1885 - 1900". Places and Poetry: A Biography. The Friends of Robert Frost. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  10. ^ Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "Largest 100 Employers in Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH NECTA Division". Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Archived from the original on 2011-08-20. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
  11. ^ Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "Largest 100 Employers in Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, MA-NH NECTA Division". Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Archived from the original on 2011-08-20. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
  12. ^ "Study says NH is tops in well being". Nashua Telegraph. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  13. ^ "2015 Population Estimates of New Hampshire Cities and Towns" (PDF). State of New Hampshire. New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning. July 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2017.

External links

Academy of Notre Dame

The Academy of Notre Dame is a private, Catholic co-educational Pre-K through Grade 8 lower school and college preparatory upper school for young women sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Andover High School (Massachusetts)

Andover High School (formerly Punchard High School) is a high school in the town of Andover, Massachusetts. Andover High School's principal is Mr. Philip T. Conrad. It is the only public high school in the Andover Public Schools district. The school adopted a new 7+H schedule in the 2017-18 school year, which received wide criticism from students and parents alike.

Billerica Memorial High School

Billerica Memorial High School (aka: BMHS/fka: Howe High School) is located at 35 River Street in Billerica, Massachusetts. It is one of two public high schools in the town. Thomas Murphy is the principal of Billerica High. He is also a graduate of the school. The school serves about 1,630 students in grades 9 through 12. An assistant principal oversees students in each of the four grades. Billerica's arch-rival is Chelmsford High School. The colors of BMHS are green and white, and the school's emblem is the Indian Head.

Central Catholic High School (Massachusetts)

Central Catholic High School is a college preparatory school with an academic campus in Lawrence, Massachusetts and an athletic campus in Lawrence, Massachusetts associated with the Marist Brothers of the Schools and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and founded in 1935 by Brother Florentius.

In 2010, Doreen Keller became the school's first woman principal. The president is Chris Sullivan. The school has approximately 1,330 students and growing and 14,000+ alumni. It was originally a boys-only school, but has been co-educational since 1996.

Chelmsford High School

Chelmsford High School is a public, coeducational high school founded in 1917. The current building is located in North Chelmsford, Massachusetts, United States, and was built in 1974. Before 1974 the high school was located in the current McCarthy Middle School building. It serves as the public high school for students in grades nine through 12. It is part of a central campus that includes four of the town's seven schools. The three other schools at the central campus are the C. Edith McCarthy Middle School, the Col. Moses S. Parker Middle School and the Charles D. Harrington Elementary School. The town's three other schools, located throughout the town, are the Byam Elementary School, the Center Elementary School and the South Row Elementary School. Chelmsford's fifth elementary school, Westlands School, closed in 2008 due to budgetary reasons.

Dracut High School

Dracut Senior High School is a public high school in Dracut, Massachusetts, United States.

The school's colors are Columbia blue, navy blue and silver. The team name is the Middies and the symbol is an anchor, or a “Block ‘D’”. These are references to midshipmen, as historically, the town was a place where U.S. Navy uniforms were created. The original Dracut High was built in the early 1950s and was frequently overcrowded, as roughly 1,600 students attend the school that was built for a fraction of that number, approximately 900. However, in 2011, the Massachusetts School Building Authority approved funding to construct a new Dracut High School. The majority of the project is completed as of October 2014.

Feaster Five Road Race

The Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Road Race, or more commonly called the Feaster Five, is a 5 mile road race held annually in Andover, Massachusetts on the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving Day. The Feaster Five Road Race is one of the Bay State's largest five mile races (an estimated 10,720 participants in 2012). The race has been held every Thanksgiving morning since 1988 and is one of a number of races across the nation known colloquially as a "Turkey Trot."

Proceeds from the race benefit Merrimack Valley Hospice and the Merrimack Valley YMCA.Children ages 2 – 12 can participate in a shorter one kilometer race called The Kids K.

Haverhill High School

Haverhill High School is an American High School in Haverhill, Massachusetts. It enrolls about 2,200 students in grades 9 through 12. The school offers a variety of Advanced Placement classes, a wide range of clubs, a number of varsity and junior varsity sports, as well as a program entitled the "Classical Academy". The Classical Academy is a school-within-a-school program and has a prescribed curriculum. It offers a rigorous curriculum consisting of entirely honors and AP classes. The Classical Academy is currently underway in its fifth year, and will be offered to future students via a test. The school also offers other services. The campus includes the Charles C. White Swimming Pool, the Manuel Epstein Library Media Center HHS/LMC and the Veterans' Memorial Skating Rink. At the school's entrance is a replica of one of the famous statues by Michelangelo in Tomb of Leorenzo De' Medici, affectionately nicknamed "The Thinker".

Haverhill High Mission Statement

"The Mission of Haverhill High School is to produce self-directed learners who read, write, and speak effectively in Standard English and who apply analytical and technological skills to interpret information and problem solve."

Bob Montana, the creator of Archie Comics, who attended Haverhill High, based the high school featured in his popular comics, Riverdale High School, on Haverhill High. Even the comic's school newspaper, The Blue and Gold, indirectly references Haverhill High's student paper, The Brown and Gold. The high school in the comics is based on Haverhill High's old building, which has since become Haverhill City Hall. Haverhill High School relocated to 137 Monument Street.

List of museums in New Hampshire

This list of museums in New Hampshire is a list of museums, defined for this context as institutions (including nonprofit organizations, government entities, and private businesses) that collect and care for objects of cultural, artistic, scientific, or historical interest and make their collections or related exhibits available for public viewing. Museums that exist only in cyberspace (i.e., virtual museums) are not included. Also included are non-profit art galleries.

To use the sortable table, click on the icons at the top of each column to sort that column in alphabetical order; click again for reverse alphabetical order.

Lowell High School (Massachusetts)

Lowell High School is a single-campus public high school located in downtown Lowell, Massachusetts. The school is a part of Lowell Public Schools.

Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) is an organization that sponsors activities in thirty-three sports, comprising 374 public and private high schools in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The MIAA is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which writes the rules for most U.S. high school sports and activities. The MIAA was founded in 1978, and was preceded by both the Massachusetts Secondary School Principals Association (MSSPA) (1942–1978) and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Council (MIAC) (1950–1978).

Notably, the MIAA does not use the NFHS ruleset for football, choosing instead to use NCAA college rules with minor modifications. It is the only state in which high school football is played in 11-minute quarters. The only other state association that plays high school football under NCAA rules, University Interscholastic League, uses the NFHS standard of 12-minute quarters.

Merrimack Valley High School

Merrimack Valley is a four-year high school located in Penacook, a village in the northern part of Concord, New Hampshire. The school has approximately 900 students and serves the communities of Andover, Boscawen, Loudon, Penacook, Salisbury, and Webster. Two years of construction and remodeling were completed in 2007, resulting in a completely new facility.

The school was initially accredited by the New England Association of School and Colleges (NEASC) in 1967. The faculty, staff, students, and community began self-study for reaccreditation in 2009; the next visiting team came in 2011. In 2003, the school was recognized by the New Hampshire Excellence in Education award (EDies) for being the best high school in the state of New Hampshire.

Merrimack Valley Library Consortium

The Merrimack Valley Library Consortium (MVLC) is an American library consortium created by Nancy Jacobson and Evelyn Kuo in 1982. MVLC manages the resource sharing of 36 automated and partially automated libraries in Merrimack Valley region of northeastern Massachusetts, ensuring unified access to all of their catalogs, which represent almost three million items and more than six hundred thousand titles.

Most library cards in Massachusetts are valid at MVLC member libraries.MVLC Libraries:

Amesbury Public Library

Memorial Hall Library, Andover

Billerica Public Library

Boxford Town Library

Burlington Public Library

Gleason Public Library, Carlisle

Chelmsford Public Library

Moses Greeley Parker Memorial Library, Dracut

Dunstable Free Public Library, Dunstable

Essex Town Hall and TOHP Burnham Library

Georgetown Peabody Library

Groton Public Library

Langley-Adams Library, Groveland

Hamilton-Wenham Public Library

Haverhill Public Library

Ipswich Public Library

Lawrence Public Library

Reuben Hoar Library, Littleton

Pollard Memorial Library, Lowell

Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library

Merrimac Public Library

Nevins Memorial Library, Methuen

Flint Public Library, Middleton

Newbury Town Library

Newburyport Public Library

Stevens Memorial Library, North Andover

Flint Memorial Library, North Reading

Rockport Public Library

Rowley Public Library

Salisbury Public Library

Tewksbury Public Library

Topsfield Town Library

Tyngsborough Public Library

G.A.R. Memorial Library, West Newbury

J. V. Fletcher Library, Westford

Wilmington Memorial Library

Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority

The Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA) is a public, non-profit organization in Massachusetts, United States, charged with providing public transportation to an area consisting of the cities and towns of Amesbury, Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Merrimac, Methuen, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Rowley, Salisbury and West Newbury, as well as a seasonal service to the popular nearby summer destination of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.The MVRTA provides fixed route bus services and paratransit services within its area, together with services to Lowell and Boston. MVRTA's buses provide interchange with commuter lines of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) at Andover Station, Haverhill station, Lawrence station, Lowell station and Newburyport station.The MVRTA started operation in 1976, having been created under Chapter 161B of the Massachusetts General Laws. Since 1983, operation of the MVRTA has been subcontracted to First Transit, a subsidiary of the United Kingdom based FirstGroup.

Merrimack Valley Seaplane Base

Merrimack Valley Seaplane Base (FAA LID: MA2) is a privately owned, public-use seaplane base located three miles (5 km) west of the central business district of Methuen, a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States.

Merrimack Valley gas explosions

On September 13, 2018, excessive pressure in natural gas lines owned by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts caused a series of explosions and fires to occur in as many as 40 homes, with over 80 individual fires, in the Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. One person was killed and 30,000 were forced to evacuate their homes.

Methuen High School

Methuen High School is a public secondary school located in the city of Methuen, Massachusetts. Methuen High serves grades nine through twelve for about 1,900 students. It is one of five public schools in Methuen and it is the only high school in the district.

Tewksbury Memorial High School

Tewksbury Memorial High School is a suburban public high school located at 320 Pleasant Street in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, USA. Serving grades 9-12, it is the only public high school in the town. Its total enrollment for the 2005-2006 school year was 1,206.


WCAP (980 AM) is a radio station licensed to serve Lowell, Massachusetts, United States. The station is owned by Merrimack Valley Radio, LLC. The station's studios are located on Central Street in Lowell.

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