Merrimack Valley

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Merrimack Valley
Merrimack-river-aerial-haverhill-newburyport.jpg
The Merrimack River in Haverhill flowing to its mouth in Newburyport, Massachusetts
Long-axis directionNorthwest–southeast
Geology
TypeRiver
Geography
LocationFlag of Massachusetts.svg  Massachusetts
Flag of New Hampshire.svg  New Hampshire
Population centers
In New Hampshire
In Massachusetts
Borders on White Mountains
Plum Island, Massachusetts
Atlantic Ocean
Traversed by Interstate 93, Interstate 495, Haverhill Line (MBTA)
Rivers Merrimack River

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 New England and has helped to define the livelihood and culture of those living along it for millennia.

Contents

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

Geography and demographics

Massachusetts

Towns in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts Merrimack Valley Map.PNG
Towns in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts

The Merrimack Valley area in Massachusetts is a community of towns and cities flanking the Merrimack River along the New Hampshire border, a portion of which is defined by a line approximately 3 miles (5 km) north and west of the Merrimack. The cities (marked with italics) and towns in this area are: [1]

The population of the region in 2010 was 631,477, slightly more than that of Boston, and about one tenth of the state's.

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 part, including Greater Lowell and Haverhill–Lawrence–Methuen, is generally more urban than the eastern part. The entire Merrimack Valley region in Massachusetts is part 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

Towns in the Merrimack Valley of New Hampshire Merrimack Valley NH.png
Towns in the Merrimack Valley of New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, the Merrimack Valley Region is an area of the south-central part of the state, about 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 eastern. It includes parts of Hillsborough, Rockingham and Merrimack counties, namely the following towns and cities (in italics):

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

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

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

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

Pre-contact

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. Manch-mills-westside.jpg
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 Merrimackrivermap.png
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.

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

Culture

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.[ citation needed ]

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; 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.

Economy

Massachusetts

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 Town–North Andover, MA–NH; and Haverhill–Newburyport–Amesbury Town, MA–NH. [10] Most large employers are in the sectors of health care and higher education. [11] [12] 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. [13] This area contains roughly 30% of the population of New Hampshire. [14]

Attractions include:

Institutions of higher education include:

See also

Related Research Articles

New Hampshire State in the United States of America

New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. New Hampshire is the 5th smallest by area and the 10th least populous U.S. state. Concord is the state capital, while Manchester is the largest city. New Hampshire has no general sales tax, nor income tax other than on interest and dividends. The New Hampshire primary is the first primary in the U.S. presidential election cycle. Its license plates carry the state motto, "Live Free or Die". The state's nickname, "The Granite State", refers to its extensive granite formations and quarries.

Essex County, Massachusetts County in Massachusetts

Essex County is a county in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. At the 2010 census, the total population was 743,159, making it the third-most populous county in the state. It is part of the Greater Boston area. The largest city in Essex County is Lynn. The county was named after the English county of Essex.

Lawrence, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Lawrence is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States, on the Merrimack River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 76,377, which had risen to an estimated as 80,028 of 2019. Surrounding communities include Methuen to the north, Andover to the southwest, and North Andover to the southeast. Lawrence and Salem were the county seats of Essex County, until the Commonwealth abolished county government in 1999. Lawrence is part of the Merrimack Valley.

Manchester, New Hampshire Largest city in New Hampshire

Manchester is a city in southern New Hampshire, United States. It is the most populous city in northern New England. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 109,565, and, in 2019, the population was estimated to be 112,673.

Nashua, New Hampshire City in New Hampshire, United States

Nashua is a city in southern New Hampshire, United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 86,494, the second-largest in northern New England after nearby Manchester. As of 2019 the population had risen to an estimated 89,355. Along with Manchester, it is a seat of New Hampshire's most populous county, Hillsborough.

Salem, New Hampshire Town in New Hampshire, United States

Salem is a town in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 28,776 at the 2010 census. Being located on Interstate 93 as the first town in New Hampshire, which lacks any state sales tax, Salem has grown into a commercial hub, anchored by the Mall at Rockingham Park. Other major sites include Canobie Lake Park, a large amusement park; and America's Stonehenge, a stone structure of disputed origins. It is the former home of Rockingham Park, a horse racetrack. The Sununu political family hails from Salem, including former New Hampshire governor and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu, and his sons John E. Sununu, a former U.S. senator, and Chris Sununu, current New Hampshire governor.

Merrimack River river in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, United States

The Merrimack River is a 117-mile-long (188 km) river in the northeastern United States. It rises at the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee rivers in Franklin, New Hampshire, flows southward into Massachusetts, and then flows northeast until it empties into the Gulf of Maine at Newburyport. From Pawtucket Falls in Lowell, Massachusetts, onward, the Massachusetts–New Hampshire border is roughly calculated as the line three miles north of the river.

U.S. Route 3 (US 3) is a United States highway running 277.9 miles (447.2 km) from Boston, Massachusetts, through New Hampshire, to the Canada–US border near Third Connecticut Lake, where it connects to Quebec Route 257.

Greater Boston Metropolitan area in the United States

Greater Boston is the metropolitan region of New England encompassing the municipality of Boston, the capital of the U.S. state of Massachusetts and the most populous city in New England, as well as its surrounding areas. The region forms the northern arc of the US northeast megalopolis and as such, Greater Boston can be described either as a metropolitan statistical area (MSA), or as a broader combined statistical area (CSA). The MSA consists of most of the eastern third of Massachusetts, excluding the South Coast region and Cape Cod; while the CSA additionally includes the municipalities of Providence, Rhode Island, Manchester, Worcester, Massachusetts, as well as the South Coast region and Cape Cod in Massachusetts. While the small footprint of the city of Boston itself only contains an estimated 685,094, the urbanization has extended well into surrounding areas; the CSA is one of two in Massachusetts, the only other being Greater Springfield. Greater Boston is the only CSA-form statistical area in New England which crosses into three states.

Middlesex Canal barge canal in eastern Massachusetts, US

The Middlesex Canal was a 27-mile (44-kilometer) barge canal connecting the Merrimack River with the port of Boston. When operational it was 30 feet wide, and 3 feet deep, with 20 locks, each 80 feet long and between 10 and 11 feet wide. It also had eight aqueducts.

Boston and Lowell Railroad

The Boston and Lowell Railroad was a railroad that operated in Massachusetts in the United States. It was one of the first railroads in North America and the first major one in the state. The line later operated as part of the Boston and Maine Railroad's Southern Division.

Nashua Manufacturing Company

The Nashua Manufacturing Company was a cotton textile manufacturer in Nashua, New Hampshire that operated from 1823 to 1945. It was one of several textile companies that helped create what became the city of Nashua, creating roads, churches and its own bank as part of the process. Like most New England textile mills it struggled during the Depression. It shut after World War II, when much of the industry had moved South for cheaper labor and land.

The New England League was a mid-level league in American minor league baseball that played intermittently in five of the six New England states between 1886 and 1949. After 1901, it existed in the shadow of two Major League Baseball clubs in Boston and alongside stronger, higher-classification leagues.

Haverhill Line

The Haverhill Line is a branch of the MBTA Commuter Rail system, running north from downtown Boston, Massachusetts through the cities and towns of Malden, Melrose, Wakefield, Reading, Wilmington, Andover, North Andover, Lawrence, and Haverhill.

A New England city and town area (NECTA) is a geographic and statistical entity defined by the U.S. federal government for use in the six-state New England region of the United States. NECTAs are analogous to metropolitan statistical areas and micropolitan statistical areas and are defined using the same criteria, except that they are defined on the basis of New England towns instead of entire counties. NECTAs are classified as either metropolitan or micropolitan NECTAs. A micropolitan NECTA has an urban core with a population of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000, whereas a metropolitan NECTA has an urban core with a population of at least 50,000.

Greater Lowell Region of Massachusetts in the United States

Greater Lowell is the name given to the city of Lowell, Massachusetts and its suburbs which are found in Northern Middlesex County, Massachusetts, the Merrimack Valley, and Southern New Hampshire.

Middlesex Turnpike (Massachusetts)

The Middlesex Turnpike was an early turnpike between Cambridge and Tyngsborough, Massachusetts and the New Hampshire border, where it connected with the Amherst Turnpike and thence Nashua and Claremont, New Hampshire.

The history of Lowell, Massachusetts, is closely tied to its location along the Pawtucket Falls of the Merrimack River, from being an important fishing ground for the Pennacook tribe to providing water power for the factories that formed the basis of the city's economy for a century. The city of Lowell was started in the 1820s as a money-making venture and social project referred to as "The Lowell Experiment", and quickly became the United States' largest textile center. However, within approximately a century, the decline and collapse of that industry in New England placed the city into a deep recession. Lowell's "rebirth", partially tied to Lowell National Historical Park, has made it a model for other former industrial towns, although the city continues to struggle with deindustrialization and suburbanization.

John Ashton (architect) American architect

John Ashton (1860-1953) was an American architect from Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Boston and Northern Street Railway Former transportation company in Greater Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston & Northern Street Railway Company (B&N) was a horse-drawn and electric streetcar railroad operated on the streets of Boston, Massachusetts, and communities to the north. Founded in 1859 as the Lynn and Boston Railroad (L&B), via lease and merger it became a primary mass transit provider for northeastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Its immediate successor was the Bay State Street Railway , and its modern successor is the state-run Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

References

  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. Archived from the original on December 2, 2016. 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". annebradstreet.org. March 22, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  7. "Charlotte Gordon - Mistress Bradstreet". Charlottegordonbooks.com. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
  8. "Elinor Miriam White Frost (1873 - 1938) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
  9. "Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1885 - 1900". Places and Poetry: A Biography. The Friends of Robert Frost. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  10. "New England City and Town Areas Wall Map" (PDF). Geography Division, U.S. Census Bureau. September 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. "Study says NH is tops in well being". Nashua Telegraph. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  14. "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.