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Salem, New Hampshire
Official seal of Salem, New Hampshire
Industry, Commerce, Recreation
Location in Rockingham County and the state of New Hampshire.
Location in Rockingham County and the state of New Hampshire.
Country United States
State New Hampshire
County Rockingham County
Incorporated 1750
Villages Salem
North Salem
 • Total 25.90 sq mi (67.07 km2)
 • Land 24.84 sq mi (64.33 km2)
 • Water 1.05 sq mi (2.73 km2)  4.07%
131 ft (40 m)
 • Total 30,089
 • Density 1,209/sq mi (466.7/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 603
FIPS code 33-66660
GNIS feature ID 0873713

Salem is a town in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 30,089 at the 2020 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.

Salem was named on Money magazine's "Best Places to Live 2020" list.


The area was first settled in 1652. As early as 1736, Salem was the "North Parish" of Methuen, Massachusetts, or "Methuen District." In 1741, when the boundary line between Massachusetts and New Hampshire was fixed, the "North Parish" became part of New Hampshire, and was given the name "Salem," taken from nearby Salem, Massachusetts. It was incorporated in 1750 by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth.

The Square, Salem Depot, NH
The Square in 1908

In 1902, Canobie Lake Park was established in Salem by the Massachusetts Northeast Street Railway Company, to encourage leisure excursions on its trolleys. The plan was successful, and the enterprise quickly became one of the leading resorts of its type in New England. Crowds arrived from all over, including the nearby mill towns of Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell and Methuen in Massachusetts, and Manchester and Nashua in New Hampshire. Factory workers and others found respite strolling along tree-lined promenades, between flower-beds or beside the lake. Rides, arcades and a dance hall provided lively entertainments. The rise of the automobile, however, brought the decline of the trolley. But Canobie Lake Park, one of the few former street railway amusement resorts still in existence, continues to be popular.

Other features of Salem's tourism history include Rockingham Park Race Track, the first horse race track in New England, and "America's Stonehenge", a curiosity (formerly "Mystery Hill"). A recent attraction in town is the Icenter, a skating arena.

Starting in the 1950s, Salem developed rapidly as part of Greater Boston, with suburban-style residential neighborhoods and a long strip of commercial development along NH Route 28. Recent (c. 2006) commercial construction has continued to focus on Route 28, as well as on the commercial zone off Exit 2 on Interstate 93.

The Manchester and Lawrence branch of the B&M railroad ran through Salem until 2001. In 2009, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation commissioned a study exploring reactivation of the branch and instituting commuter rail service connecting to the MBTA Haverhill Line and onward to Boston. The study's cost/benefit analysis recommended taking no action to reactivate beyond preserving the option for consideration at a future time.


SalemNH TownOffices
Town Office Building

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 25.9 square miles (67 km2), of which 24.7 sq mi (64 km2) is land and 1.2 sq mi (3.1 km2) is water, comprising 4.49% of the town. Salem is drained by the Spicket River and Policy Brook. Canobie Lake is on the western boundary, Arlington Mill Reservoir is in the north, and World End Pond is in the southeast. None of the town's residential water supply incorporates sodium fluoride, a water additive that helps ensure strong teeth enamel. The highest point in Salem is the summit of Gordon's Hill, at 380 feet (120 m) above sea level, along the town's western border.

Salem is the first New Hampshire town encountered when traveling north from Massachusetts on Interstate 93. The interstate's first two New Hampshire exits are within town. Via I-93, Boston is 35 miles (56 km) to the south and Manchester is 20 miles (32 km) to the northwest.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 1,218
1800 1,077 −11.6%
1810 1,179 9.5%
1820 1,311 11.2%
1830 1,310 −0.1%
1840 1,408 7.5%
1850 1,555 10.4%
1860 1,670 7.4%
1870 1,603 −4.0%
1880 1,809 12.9%
1890 1,805 −0.2%
1900 2,041 13.1%
1910 2,117 3.7%
1920 2,318 9.5%
1930 2,751 18.7%
1940 3,267 18.8%
1950 4,805 47.1%
1960 9,210 91.7%
1970 20,142 118.7%
1980 24,124 19.8%
1990 25,746 6.7%
2000 28,112 9.2%
2010 28,776 2.4%
2020 30,089 4.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
Apple Tree, Canobie Lake Park
Under the Apple Tree in 1908, Canobie Lake Park

At the 2000 census, there were 28,112 people, 10,402 households and 7,603 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,138.0 per square mile (439.4/km2). There were 10,866 housing units at an average density of 439.9 per square mile (169.9/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.01% White, 0.55% African American, 0.21% Native American, 2.27% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.83% from other races, and 1.07% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.96% of the population.

There were 10,402 households, of which 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.6% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.9% were non-families. Of all households 21.2% were made up of individuals, and 7.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.16.

Age distribution was 25.3% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 31.7% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.9 males.

The median household income was $58,090, and the median family income was $67,278. Males had a median income of $46,330 versus $31,031 for females. The per capita income for the town was $26,170. About 3.1% of families and 4.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.1% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.

Salem in popular culture

Rockingham Park Race Track, located in Salem, as mentioned in the film The Sting starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, was central to that film's plot.

Scenes from the original The Thomas Crown Affair were filmed at the Salem glider airport, which is now Campbell's Scottish Highlands Golf Course.

Points of interest


Salem public schools spend $5,544 per student. The average school expenditure in the U.S. is $5,678. There are about 16.1 students per teacher in Salem.

  • Southern New Hampshire University (Salem satellite campus)
High school
  • Salem High School
Private school


Four New Hampshire state routes and one Interstate Highway cross Salem.

  • NH 28 follows Broadway through the Salem central business district, becoming Rockingham Road in the northern part of town. It connects Salem to Windham in the north and Methuen, Massachusetts, in the south.
  • NH 38 begins in Salem at NH 28 (Broadway) just to the east of the Mall at Rockingham Park, and goes southwest into the town of Pelham. It primarily follows Lowell Road and Rockingham Park Boulevard.
  • NH 97 begins in Salem at NH 28 (Broadway) and follows Main Street east to connect Salem to Haverhill, Massachusetts.
  • NH 111 crosses the extreme northern part of the town, connecting to Windham in the west and Hampstead in the east.
  • Interstate 93 crosses the town from southeast to northwest. There are two interchanges in Salem: Exit 1, which provides access to Rockingham Park Boulevard, and Exit 2, which provides access to Pelham Road.

The nearest airport is Manchester–Boston Regional Airport along the border of Londonderry and Manchester. The nearest rail service is the Haverhill Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail which can be accessed at Lawrence station in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The nearest Amtrak station is at Haverhill station in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Notable people

Women's History Month on Kiddle
Women Scientists of Antiquity
Mary the Jewess
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