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Middleborough, Massachusetts
Middleboro
Town
Town Hall
Town Hall
Official seal of Middleborough, MassachusettsMiddleboro
Seal
Motto: Cranberry Capital of the World
Location in Plymouth County in Massachusetts
Location in Plymouth County in Massachusetts
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Plymouth
Settled 1660
Incorporated 1669
Area
 • Total 72.2 sq mi (186.9 km2)
 • Land 69.1 sq mi (178.9 km2)
 • Water 3.1 sq mi (8.0 km2)
Elevation 141 ft (43 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 23,116
 • Density 320.33/sq mi (123.68/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02346
Area code(s) 508 / 774
FIPS code 25-40850
GNIS feature ID 0618346
Website http://www.middleborough.com

Middleborough (frequently written as Middleboro) is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 23,116 at the 2010 census. For geographic and demographic information on the village of Middleborough Center, please see the article Middleborough Center, Massachusetts. In the summer of 2007, Middleborough became the proposed location for a controversial future resort casino, sponsored by the Wampanoag Tribe of Mashpee, Massachusetts.

History

The town was first settled by Europeans in 1661 as Nemasket, later changed to Middlebury, and officially incorporated as Middleborough in 1669. The name Nemasket came from a Native American settlement along the small river that now bears the same name. Nemasket may have meant "place of fish", due to the large amount of herring that migrate up the river each spring. There are no contemporary records that indicate the name Middlebury was taken from a place in England, and changed to the more modern Middleborough. The names Middlebury and Middleborough were actually derived from the city of Middelburg, Zeeland, the westernmost province of the Netherlands. Middelburg was an international intellectual center and economic powerhouse. The English religious dissenters called the Brownists developed their governance institutions in Middelburg before emigrating on the Mayflower, and were the earliest settlers of Middleborough where their town and church governance ethics were continued.

During King Philip's War (1675–76), the town's entire populace took shelter within the confines of a fort constructed along the Nemasket River. The site is located behind the old junior high school (now a kindergarten), and is marked by a state historical commission marker along Route 105. Before long, the fort was abandoned and the population withdrew to the greater shelter of the Plymouth Colony; in their absence, the entire village was burned to the ground, and it would be several years before the town would be refounded. Western Middleborough broke away in 1853 and formed the town of Lakeville, taking with it the main access to the large freshwater lakes there, including Assawompset Pond.

Middleborough was once a large producer of shoes and is still home to the Alden Shoe Company, one of the last remaining shoe manufacturers in America. The local Maxim Motors manufactured fire engines from 1914-1989. Middleborough has since become the cranberry capital of the world, hosting the corporate headquarters of Ocean Spray Cranberries. Notable sights include the 1870s Victorian-style town hall, the Beaux Art style town library (1903), and in the spring, the Nemasket River alewife and blueback herring run upstream to the Assawompset Ponds complex to spawn.

In recent history, Middleborough has made its mark through the prowess of its Little League Baseball program. In 1994 the Middleborough All Stars reached the Little League World Series by defeating Milburn-Short Hills, New Jersey to take the East Region title. The team would finish 3rd in the United States. They are one of only two Massachusetts Little League teams to win the East title (Andover Little League, 1988) before the splitting of the New England and Mid-Atlantic Regions in 2001. In 1999, the team again won the Massachusetts State title and fell in the East Region final to Toms River, New Jersey - the eventual U.S. runner-up.

Since 2000, the team has reached the State semi-finals five times, finishing third in the state in 2000 and 2003, and second in 2002 and 2008. In 2012, they finished fourth in the state. The 2012 team was coached by Skeeter Porter and Ron Holmgren. The 2002 team was only beaten by U.S. runner-up, Jesse Burkett Little League of Worcester.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 72.2 square miles (186.9 km2), of which 69.1 square miles (178.9 km2) is land and 3.1 square miles (8.0 km2), or 4.27%, is water. Middleborough is the second largest municipality in Massachusetts in terms of area, smaller only than Plymouth.

Middleborough lies on the western border of Plymouth County. It is bordered by Bridgewater and Halifax to the north, Plympton and Carver to the east, Wareham and Rochester to the south, and Lakeville, Taunton and Raynham to the west. Despite its name, Middleborough is not located anywhere near the other 11 "-boroughs" in the state, lying south and east of all of them. The town is approximately 15 miles (24 km) west of Plymouth, 30 miles (48 km) east of Providence, Rhode Island and 40 miles (64 km) south of Boston.

Middleborough's rivers and brooks feed in two directions. The Taunton River, Nemasket River and their tributaries flow southeastward as part of the Taunton River Watershed, which empties into Narragansett Bay. The other waterways of the town, including the Weweantic River, flow southward into Buzzards Bay. Along Middleborough's border with Lakeville lie the Assawompset, Pocksha and Great Quittacas ponds. Tispaquin Pond, Woods Pond, and several other ponds make up the town's other bodies of water. Middleborough has four wildlife management areas, as well as the Beaver Dam, Great Cedar and Little Cedar Swamps, the swamps being located in the north of town. The town is also the site of several cranberry bogs, especially in the southeastern part of town along the Carver town line. Ocean Spray's headquarters are just over the town line in Lakeville.

Transportation

Interstate 495 runs through the town on its way to Cape Cod. The town is also crossed by U.S. Route 44, as well as Massachusetts routes 18, 28 and 105, as well as a short, 1,000-foot (300 m) section of Route 58 which passes through the southeast corner of town. Route 79's eastern terminus is on the town line at Route 105; the "Entering Middleborough" sign is barely fifty feet from the end of the road. Routes 18, 28 and 44 meet at a two lane rotary adjacent to I-495 just west of the center of town. Two of I-495's four interchanges are located there. I-495's interchange with Route 24 is located just 1.5 miles (2.4 km) northwest of the town line.

Railroad Station, Middleborough, MA
Railroad station c. 1908

Since the 1840s Middleborough has served as a major rail transportation hub for southeastern Massachusetts, with at one time five rail lines radiating out from the town. Today three rail lines radiate from Middleborough, toward Boston, Taunton and Cape Cod. Two rail freight companies serve Middleborough: CSX Transportation, which serves the Boston, Taunton and a short portion of the Cape Cod lines; and the Massachusetts Coastal Railroad, which serves Cape Cod. The nearby Middleborough/Lakeville commuter rail station of the MBTA's commuter rail system provides frequent direct service to Boston's South Station, and seasonal service to Cape Cod via the CapeFLYER train. The nearest inter-city (Amtrak) passenger rail stations are Providence, Route 128 station in Westwood and Boston's South Station.

The nearest regional airports are Taunton Municipal Airport and Plymouth Municipal Airport; the nearest national and international airports are T. F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, and Logan International Airport in Boston. From 1954 to 1959, a small runway called North Middleboro Airpark was constructed. It was a 3,000 foot-long paved runway, although it was not depicted in the November 1954 Boston Sectional Chart. Sometime between 1982-1994 it was closed,as it was depicted simply as "Landing Strip" on the 1994 USGS topo map. A small field in South Middleborough is also used a place for recreational aircraft, but not for transportation.

Demographics

See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income
Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1850 5,336 —    
1860 4,553 −14.7%
1870 4,687 +2.9%
1880 5,237 +11.7%
1890 6,065 +15.8%
1900 6,885 +13.5%
1910 8,214 +19.3%
1920 8,453 +2.9%
1930 8,608 +1.8%
1940 9,032 +4.9%
1950 10,164 +12.5%
1960 11,065 +8.9%
1970 13,607 +23.0%
1980 16,404 +20.6%
1990 17,867 +8.9%
2000 19,941 +11.6%
2010 23,116 +15.9%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.

As of the census of 2000, there were 19,941 people, 6,981 households, and 5,117 families residing in the town. The population density was 286.7 people per square mile (110.7/km²). There were 7,249 housing units at an average density of 104.2 per square mile (40.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.1% White, 1.3% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.4% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.8% of the population.

There were 6,981 households out of which 38.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.4% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.7% were non-families. 20.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.23.

In the town the population was spread out with 27.7% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 32.8% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $52,755, and the median income for a family was $65,173. Males had a median income of $60,854 versus $40,570 for females. The per capita income for the town was $75,000.00

Profanity ban controversy

On June 11, 2012, Middleborough made national headlines after residents approved an ordinance outlawing the use of profanity in public that is punishable by a $20 fine. It passed 183-50 in the town of over 23,000 residents. Many legal experts say the law violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Dozens of residents on both sides of the issue attended a protest in front of the town hall. The Massachusetts attorney general will review the bylaw to determine if it is constitutional and adheres to state law. The Massachusetts state director for the American Civil Liberties Union said, "the Supreme Court has ruled that the government can't prohibit public speech just because it contains profanity." The town meeting actually took the previously existing profanity ban and decriminalized it, making it a civil offense subject to a fine.

Points of interest

  • Tom Thumb House, home of Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren
  • Middleborough Historical Museum, with extensive collection of Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren items
  • Robbins Museum of Archaeology, collections focused on the prehistory of New England's Native Americans

Images for kids


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