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Westport, Massachusetts

Stone wall and field scene, Westport
Stone wall and field scene, Westport
Official seal of Westport, Massachusetts
Location in Bristol County in Massachusetts
Location in Bristol County in Massachusetts
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Bristol
Settled 1670
Incorporated 1787
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 64.4 sq mi (166.8 km2)
 • Land 50.1 sq mi (129.6 km2)
 • Water 14.3 sq mi (37.1 km2)
50 ft (15 m)
 • Total 16,339
 • Density 253.71/sq mi (97.96/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 508 / 774
FIPS code 25-77570
GNIS feature ID 0618287

Westport (Massachusett: Acoaxet)is a town in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 16,339 at the 2020 census.

The village of North Westport lies in the town. Other named areas of the town are "Westport Point," which has a dock on the Westport River where Main Road meets the river; "Central Village" with town offices, retail stores and businesses; "Head of Westport" at the head of the east branch of the river; and the area referred to either as "Acoaxet" or "Westport Harbor," which is between the west branch of the river and Rhode Island. This area is cut off from the rest of Massachusetts by water and Rhode Island.


Westport, so named because it was the westernmost port in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was first settled in 1670 as a part of the town of Dartmouth by members of the Sisson family. The river, and the land around it, was called "Coaksett" in the original deed; the name, now spelled "Acoaxet," lives on in the southwestern community along the western branch of the Westport River. Like many areas in the region, Westport was affected by King Philip's War, when the native Wampanoag population rebelled against the oppression of the English settlers. Several small mills were built along the Westport River, and in 1787, the town, along with the town of New Bedford, seceded from Dartmouth.

During the late 18th century, into the early 19th century, a Quaker businessman, sea captain, patriot, and abolitionist named Paul Cuffee and his wife settled in the town, on the banks of the Westport River where he launched a shipyard. Cuffee became one of the richest free blacks in the United States at the time, and helped the effort to try to emigrate black slaves to Sierra Leone in Africa.

There were several cotton mills along the river, the largest of which was at the junction of the river with Lake Noquochoke on the Dartmouth town line. The Macomber turnip traces its ancestry to turnips sowed in Westport shortly after 1876. During the Second World War, a coastal defense installation was raised on Gooseberry Island. The town is now mostly residential, with a large farming community. Horseneck Beach State Reservation, located to the north and west of Gooseberry Island, is a popular summer destination for many in the area.


Westport Harbor winter
Westport River

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 64.4 square miles (167 km2), of which 50.1 square miles (130 km2) is land and 14.3 square miles (37 km2), or 22.27%, is water. The majority of that water area is from the Watuppa Ponds along the border with Fall River, as well as Westport Harbor, where the two branches of the Westport River meet before emptying into Buzzards Bay. Westport is bordered by Fall River to the northwest and west, Dartmouth to the east, Buzzards Bay to the south, and Little Compton and Tiverton, Rhode Island, to the west. Westport is approximately 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Providence, Rhode Island, and approximately 60 miles (97 km) south of Boston.

There are several unofficial localities within town: Head of Westport, South Westport, Westport Point, Central Village, North Westport (known in former times as Westport Factory) and Westport Harbor which is often also called Acoaxet, an early name. Because of the west branch of the Westport River, Acoaxet is inaccessible by land except by passing through Little Compton, Rhode Island.


Winter: Seasonal effects begin in mid-December and end in mid-March. The snowiest times of the winter season are in January and February. Temperatures average highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s. The coldest time of the year in Westport occurs during January, in which residents can see temperature plummet into the teens and single digits.

Spring: Seasonal effects of spring begin in the end of March and end in mid-May, with mostly rain in March and April and sun/rain in May. Temperatures average with highs in the 50s/60s, and lows in the 40s/50s.

Summer: Seasonal effects begin in the end of May and end in mid-September, with mostly sunny conditions. Hurricanes/tropical storms usually hit or come close to Westport during late August and September. Temperatures average with highs in the 80s, and lows in the 60s and 70s. The hottest time of the year in Westport occurs in mid-July where temperatures can climb to highs in the 90s.

Fall/ Autumn: Seasonal effects begin in the end of September and end in the beginning of December with mostly sunny crisp, cool days. Temperatures range from 50s during the day, and 30s/40s at night.

Hurricanes: Tropical systems occasionally hit Westport or come close to Westport. The most favorable period for tropical systems in Westport are in mid to late August and during the month of September. The last tropical system to hit Westport was Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012, which hit the town at about 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) and brought powerful gusts and periods of heavy rain to the area. The storm disrupted power for many across the town, however, much of Westport's service was restored within a day.

Climate data for Westport, Massachusetts
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
Average high °F (°C) 37.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 30.6
Average low °F (°C) 23.5
Record low °F (°C) −9
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.98
Source #1: Western Regional Climate Center (normals 1958-1992)
Source #2: The Weather Channel (extremes)


Normand Edward Fontaine Bridge
The Fontaine Bridge carries Route 88 over the Westport River.

The town is accessible via Interstate 195, U.S. Route 6, and Massachusetts Route 177, which has its eastern terminus at its intersection at Route 6, on the eastern edge of Westport. Massachusetts Route 88, the longest state highway in Massachusetts to be entirely located within one town, serves as an access from I-195 (at exit 10) to Horseneck Beach State Reservation.

There is bus service along Route 6 provided by the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA). During the summer, service is extended to Horseneck Beach. Regional bus service can be reached in Fall River, and regional rail service can be reached in Middleborough/ Lakeville, and in Providence. Plans have been in the works to bring South Coast Rail service to Fall River, and New Bedford, and is set to be completed in 2024. The nearest airport is New Bedford Regional Airport, 8 miles (13 km) away. National airline service can be reached at T. F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, 36 miles (58 km) away.

Construction of two MBTA commuter rail stations is currently underway in the adjacent city of Fall River as part of the South Coast Rail project. Upon completion, these will offer railway connections from the south coast to cities including Taunton, Brockton, Braintree, and Boston.

A short segment of railway, officially known as the North Dartmouth Industrial railroad and informally referred to as the Watuppa Branch, passes through northern Westport before terminating near Massachusetts Route 88. The track runs from Westport through Dartmouth and into New Bedford, where is connects with the New Bedford Secondary. The primary operator of freight rail in Westport is Bay Colony Railroad, which operates along the Watuppa Branch and interchanges with Massachusetts Coastal Railroad in New Bedford.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1850 2,795 —    
1860 2,767 −1.0%
1870 2,724 −1.6%
1880 2,894 +6.2%
1890 2,599 −10.2%
1900 2,890 +11.2%
1910 2,928 +1.3%
1920 3,115 +6.4%
1930 4,408 +41.5%
1940 4,134 −6.2%
1950 4,989 +20.7%
1960 6,641 +33.1%
1970 9,791 +47.4%
1980 13,763 +40.6%
1990 13,852 +0.6%
2000 14,183 +2.4%
2010 15,532 +9.5%
2020 16,339 +5.2%

Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.

As of the census of 2010, there were 15,532 people, 5,386 households, and 4,082 families residing in the town. The population density was 283.4 people per square mile (109.4/km2). There were 6,143 housing units at an average density of 122.7 per square mile (47.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 98.01% White, 0.17% African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.69% of the population.

There were 5,386 households in Westport, of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.9% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.2% were non-families. 19.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 21.6% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 29.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $55,436, and the median income for a family was $64,568. Males had a median income of $41,890 versus $30,921 for females. The per capita income for the town was $25,281. About 3.7% of families and 4.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.5% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.


Westport MA High School
Westport High School

Westport has its own school system. There are three schools: Alice A. Macomber School, which provides pre-school (pre-kindergarten), kindergarten, first grade, and second grade; Westport Elementary School, near the Head of Westport, which serves grades 3–6; and Westport Junior/Senior High School, which serves grades 7–12. Students who graduate from Westport Junior/Senior High School with enough credits in certain fields of study will earn special academy certificates, in addition to their high school diplomas. This was modelled after University-style degrees.

Their team name is the Westport Wildcats who have won multiple championships in the Mayflower League. The Wildcats are one of the few teams in the Mayflower League who have won multiple championships in every sport. Their mascot is the Wildcat, and their colors are brown, white and yellow (a legacy of when Westport was in a different league that used Ivy League colors—Westport using brown and white after Brown University). The school is a member of the Mayflower League, and competes against mostly division 3 and 4 schools in the region.

Westport High School graduated 94% of its class in 2013.

In addition to their schools, incoming high school students may choose to attend Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River or Bristol County Agricultural High School in Dighton, free of charge. Juniors and Seniors may opt to take college classes at UMass Dartmouth in Dartmouth or Bristol Community College in Fall River to earn both high school and college credits. Internships and independent study are offered as well.

There is one private school in the town, Montessori School of the Angels, which serves grades 1–8, located in the Westport Factory neighborhood. It was formerly known as Saint Joseph's Montessori, and was located in Fall River; the school building itself was formerly Saint George's School, which closed due to lack of funding and declining attendance. Many students also attend private and charter schools in Fall River and Dartmouth, including Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River and Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth.

Notable people

  • Thomas Church Brownell (1779–1865), founder of Trinity College
  • Paul Cuffee, businessman
  • Ruby Devol Finch, watercolorist
  • Black Francis, lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the Pixies
  • Allen Levrault, former Major League Baseball Player (Milwaukee Brewers from 2001–2003, and the Florida Marlins in 2003)
  • Wendi Nix, ESPN College Football, and NFL analyst
  • Edwin Slade, Wisconsin State Assemblyman and businessman

Images for kids

See also

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