kids encyclopedia robot

Merrimac, Massachusetts facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Merrimac, Massachusetts
Merrimac Town Hall near Merrimac Square
Merrimac Town Hall near Merrimac Square
Official seal of Merrimac, Massachusetts
Location in Essex County and the state of Massachusetts.
Location in Essex County and the state of Massachusetts.
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Essex
Settled 1638
Incorporated 1876
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 8.8 sq mi (22.9 km2)
 • Land 8.5 sq mi (21.9 km2)
 • Water 0.4 sq mi (1.0 km2)
107 ft (33 m)
 • Total 6,338
 • Density 716.8/sq mi (276.8/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 351 / 978
FIPS code 25-40430
GNIS feature ID 0618301

Merrimac is a small town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States, and on the southeastern border of New Hampshire, approximately 34 miles (55 km) northeast of Boston and 10 miles (16 km) west of the Atlantic Ocean. It was incorporated on April 11, 1876. It is situated along the north bank of the Merrimack River in the Merrimack Valley. The population was 6,338 at the 2010 census. Historically a manufacturing center, it has long since become a largely residential community. It is part of the Greater Boston metropolitan area.


Merrimac Street, Merrimacport, MA
Merrimac Street in 1911

Settled by the English in 1638 as a part of Salisbury and later as a part of Amesbury around the village of Merrimacport, it was known throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as an agricultural and fishing community, with a small amount of shipbuilding. When Amesbury separated from Salisbury in 1666, Merrimac was referred to as the West Parish of Amesbury, or simply West Amesbury, although it was unincorporated. When a border dispute between the Massachusetts and New Hampshire colonies was settled in 1741, the new border sliced off the parts of Amesbury that were further from the Merrimack River, with the area then associated with West Amesbury becoming the "new town" of Newton, New Hampshire.

In the nineteenth century, benefiting from a manufacturing boom following the establishment of some of the first planned industrial cities in the United States, nearby Lawrence and Lowell, Merrimac came to be known worldwide for its horse-drawn carriage industry. During this period, the town proper of Merrimac, centered around Merrimac Square, expanded separately from the village of Merrimacport. In 1876, Merrimac, including Merrimacport, separated from Amesbury and officially incorporated itself as a town. It is believed that the town, as well as the river that runs along its southern border, are both named for the American Indian tribe that occupied the region. "Merrimac" (or Merrimack) means "swift water place" in the language of this tribe. This town center consists of the typical brick buildings and Victorian architecture of the late nineteenth century, and it is surrounded by much of the town's population. Interstate 495 now divides Merrimacport from Merrimac. At the beginning of the twentieth century, as with the rest of the New England, it went through a period of deindustrialization as the region's industry relocated to the Midwest. The communities of the Merrimack Valley, including Merrimac, were particularly affected by this long period of economic decline and have never fully recovered.

Today, Merrimac is a typical small New England community. It went through numerous growth spurts throughout the 1990s and the beginning of the twenty-first century as it was absorbed into the Greater Lawrence metropolitan area.

Main Street East from Square, Merrimac, MA
Merrimac Square in 1911


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 8.8 square miles (22.9 km2), of which 8.5 square miles (21.9 km2) is land and 0.39 square miles (1.0 km2), or 4.48%, is water. Merrimac is drained by the Merrimack River, whose north bank the town lies on. Located in the Merrimack River Valley and on the coastal plain of Massachusetts, Merrimac's land consists mainly of small, forested hills (before the twentieth century, it was mostly pasture). The town also has several ponds, streams and Lake Attitash.

Merrimac is roughly diamond-shaped, and is bordered by Amesbury and Lake Attitash to the northeast, West Newbury to the southeast, Haverhill to the southwest, Newton, New Hampshire, to the north and northwest, South Hampton, New Hampshire, to the far northeast, and Plaistow, New Hampshire, on the western corner. The town is 14 miles (23 km) northeast of Lawrence, 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Manchester, New Hampshire, and 34 miles (55 km) north of Boston. Merrimac lies along Interstate 495, with Exit 53 giving access to the town. Massachusetts Route 110 also passes through the town, just north of I-495. There are no bridges crossing the Merrimack directly into the town; the Rocks Village Bridge lies just to the south of town in Haverhill, and the nearest downstream crossing is the Whittier Memorial Bridge in Amesbury.


Merrimack River West from Merrimacport, MA
Merrimacport village in 1911
See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income
Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1880 2,237 —    
1890 2,633 +17.7%
1900 2,131 −19.1%
1910 2,202 +3.3%
1920 2,173 −1.3%
1930 2,392 +10.1%
1940 2,320 −3.0%
1950 2,804 +20.9%
1960 3,261 +16.3%
1970 4,245 +30.2%
1980 4,451 +4.9%
1990 5,166 +16.1%
2000 6,138 +18.8%
2010 6,338 +3.3%
* = population estimate.

As of the census of 2000, there were 6,138 people, 2,233 households, and 1,699 families residing in the town. The population density was 719.6 people per square mile (277.8/km²). There were 2,295 housing units at an average density of 269.1 per square mile (103.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.27% White, 0.39% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.28% Asian, 0.29% from other races, and 0.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.90% of the population.

There were 2,233 households out of which 40.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.8% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.9% were non-families. 19.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.16.

In the town, the population was spread out with 29.0% under the age of 18, 5.0% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 23.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $58,692, versus $65,401 statewide, and the median income for a family was $69,118. Males had a median income of $48,718 versus $35,325 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,869. About 1.9% of families and 2.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.7% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.

Sites of interest

  • Lake Attitash (and Indian Head Park)
  • The Merrimac Public Library is the town library. It belongs to the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium.
  • Merrimac Square
  • Merrimac Town Forest
  • Merrimac Training Field
  • Merrimacport
  • Stevens Field
  • Skip's, a popular local diner that originated as a drive-in restaurant.

Annual events

Merrimac is home to several regional events:

  • The Merrimac Santa Parade
  • Merrimac Old Home Days
  • Santa in his sleigh with his Reindeers riding on a flat bed truck visits every street in Merrimac on Christmas Eve.

Images for kids

kids search engine
Merrimac, Massachusetts Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.