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Billerica ( ) is a town in Middlesex Countymarker, Massachusettsmarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 38,981 at the 2000 census.


Billerica's prehistoric history, represented by a Native American burial site, dates to circa 1000 B.C.

In the early 1630s a Praying Indian village named Shawsheen was at the current site of Billerica.

In 1638, Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop and Lt. Governor Thomas Dudley were granted land along the Concord River in the wilderness which was called Shawshin by the local Native Americans. (Today, Shawshin is commonly spelled Shawsheen; see Shawsheen River.) Most of the settlement was to take place under the supervision of Cambridge; however, financial difficulties in the colony prevented this from taking place, and the issue of settling Shawshin continued to be deferred. Finally, in 1652, roughly a dozen families from Cambridgemarker and Charlestown Village, later Woburnmarker, had begun to occupy Shawshin as well.

Wishing to replace the foreign-sounding Shawshin with a name more familiar, the settlers chose the name Billerica, likely due to the fact that the majority of the families living in the settlement were originally from the town of Billericaymarker in Essex, England. The town was incorporated as Billerica in 1655, on the same day as nearby Chelmsfordmarker and Grotonmarker. The oldest remaining homestead in the town is the Manning Manse, built in 1696, and later the residence of William Manning (1747–1814), the author of "The Key of Libberty," a critique of Federalist policies. (The unusual spelling of liberty is Manning's own.) Other notable Revolutionary War era residents included Asa Pollard (1735–1775), the first soldier killed at the Battle of Bunker Hillmarker, and Thomas Ditson (born 1741), who was tarred and feathered by the British in 1775 while on a visit to Boston. The song "Yankee Doodle" supposedly became a term of national pride instead of an insult due to this event . The town now celebrates "Yankee Doodle Weekend" every September.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 26.4 square miles (68.3 km²), of which, 25.9 square miles (67.1 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km²) of it (1.90%) is water.

Billerica is located about 22 miles north-northwest of Boston along Route 3, positioning it a short distance from both the Route 128/Interstate 95 high-technology belt around Bostonmarker to the south, and the city of Lowellmarker, 6 miles to the north. This has established Billerica as the border between Greater Lowell and the much larger Greater Boston region.

Billerica has several small neighborhoods that form nine villages (or sections) of town. Those villages are North Billericamarker, South Billerica, East Billerica, West Billerica, Billerica Village, Pinehurstmarker, Riverdale, Nuttings Lake, and River Pines.

Some of the neighborhoods that form these sections of town are Garden City (North Billerica); The Pines (Pinehurst); Indian Hill (Nuttings Lake); Rio Vista (West Billerica); Pattenville (East Billerica); Fox Hill District aka FHD (East Billerica); Riverhurst (South Billerica); Pinedale (Pinehurst); Riverside (West Billerica); Webb Brook (Riverdale) and Glad Valley (Billerica Village).

Billerica borders the following towns: Chelmsfordmarker, Lowellmarker, Tewksburymarker, Wilmingtonmarker, Burlingtonmarker, Bedfordmarker, and Carlislemarker. The border with Lowell is at a point in the middle of the Concord River where Billerica, Chelmsford, Lowell and Tewksbury all meet.

Environmental Issues

The Shawsheen River and Concord River are the two major waterways within the town. Billerica has recently had problems meeting federal environmental standards along these rivers. In May 2007, the town was forced to pay a $250,000 penalty for discharging pollutants into the Concord River. The action was brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) because the town of Billerica exceeded allowable effluent limits for phosphorus, fecal coliform bacteria, pH, and ammonia nitrogen. According to the EPA, Billerica's discharges of phosphorus created an overabundance of nutrients. This directly contributed to the excessive aquatic plant growth that now characterizes the river. In June 2001, the Merrimack River Watershed Council (MRWC) also determined that the Shawsheen River failed to meet water quality standards. This situation was largely attributed to stormwater runoff via town, private and state storm drain systems. As a result of increased pollutants, major portions of the Shawsheen River are now listed as impaired waters on the 303(d) list of the Clean Water Act.


As of the census of 2000, there were 38,981 people, 12,919 households, and 10,244 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,505.9 people per square mile (581.3/km²). There were 13,071 housing units at an average density of 504.9/sq mi (194.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 94.68% Caucasian, 1.11% African American, 0.10% Native American, 2.76% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.33% from other races, and 0.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.54% of the population.

There were 12,919 households out of which 37.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.1% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.7% were non-families. 16.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.92 and the average family size was 3.30.

In the town the population was spread out with 25.7% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 34.6% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 103.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $67,799, and the median income for a family was $72,102. Males had a median income of $47,014 versus $33,862 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,953. About 2.8% of families and 3.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.5% of those under age 18 and 4.3% of those age 65 or over.


Pan Am Railways is headquartered in the North Billericamarker area of Billerica.


Billerica Public Schools operates primary and secondary schools. The Billerica public school system consists of six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. In addition, the town is home to a regional technical high school.

Public schools

Elementary schools

  • Ditson Elementary School (Cook Street; Pinehurst)
  • Frederick J. Dutile Elementary School (Treble Cove Road; River Pines)
  • S. G. Hajjar Elementary School (Rogers & Call Streets; North Billerica)
  • John F. Kennedy Elementary School (Kimbrough Road & Carline Drive; East Billerica)
  • Parker Elementary School (River Street; Billerica Village)
  • Eugene C. Vining Elementary School (Lexington Road; Nuttings Lake)

Middle schools

  • Marshall Middle School (Floyd Street; Billerica Village)
  • Cyril D. Locke Middle School (Allen & Baldwin Roads; East Billerica)

High school

The high school's colors are green and white, and its athletics teams, which play in the highly competitive Merrimack Valley Conference, are nicknamed the "Indians". Among the teams' rivals are the Tewksbury Redmenmarker, Dracut Middies, and the Andover Golden Warriorsmarker, though their main rivals are the Chelmsford Lionsmarker. The rivalry between the Indians and the Lions began in 1927, and their annual Thanksgiving games have taken place since 1938. The games are back and forth and each team usually wins.

Vocational school

Billerica is also home to the Shawsheen Valley Technical High School (Cook Street; Pinehurst), which serves Billerica and four of its neighboring towns: Bedfordmarker, Burlingtonmarker, Tewksburymarker, and Wilmingtonmarker. The school's colors are purple, black, white, and its teams compete with several other vocational-technical high schools and other smaller town schools in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference. The school's mascot is the ram, and its archrival is the Greater Lowell Vocational Technical High School of Tyngsboromarker. The school, known to be one of the best vocational schools in the United Statesmarker, is home to 20 technical-vocational shops, including Autobody, Automotive, Bakery, Business, Carpentry, Commercial Art & Design, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts, Diesel, Drafting, Electrical, Electronics, Graphic Arts, Health, HVAC, Internet, Machine, Masonry, Metal Fab and Plumbing. The school also hosts a bakery, salon, restaurant, and multiple automotive garages, which are all available for use (space permitting) to the public. Each year, the Plumbing, Masonry, Electrical and Carpentry shops are all involved in building a house which is given to the winning member of a prize issued by the school.

Billerica House of Correction

A Middlesex County Jail is located in town off of Treble Cove Road. This prison is under the jurisdiction of the Middlesex Sheriff's Office.


MBTA Commuter Rail provides service from Boston'smarker North Stationmarker with the North Billerica stationmarker on its Lowell Line. The Lowell Regional Transit Authority provides service in parts of Billerica. Route #3 (South Lowell) services the North Billerica MBTA station and the North Billerica Business Center. Route #13 (Billerica Via Edson) services Boston Road (Route 3A) from North Billerica to Pinehurst. Stops along the way include: The North Billerica MBTA Station, Pollard Street, High Street, Billerica Center and Town Hall, the Billerica Mall, and Towne Plaza, and a shopping center located in Riverdale. Route #14 (Burlington Mallmarker/Lahey Clinic) services Route 3A until Billerica Center where it continues onto Concord Road and the Middlesex Turnpike.

The oldest canal in the United States, the Middlesex Canal, which flowed through Billerica between 1795 and 1852, was used to transport goods between Lowellmarker and Boston. Because of this key transportation corridor, Billerica earned the moniker "Gateway to Lowell."

In the 1840s, the Boston and Lowell Railroad's main line was built and passed through the town's villages of North Billerica and East Billerica. Stations were built in both locations and North Billerica Station is still an active Commuter Rail Station. Trains stopped taking passengers at East Billerica in 1965 and the station was remodeled and is now a private home.

Narrow gauge

See Main Article Billerica and Bedford Railroad

In 1876 a man named George Mansfield came to Billerica to pitch the idea of building a two-foot gauge railroad from North Billerica Station to the new Bedford Station on the Middlesex Central Line in neighboring Bedfordmarker. That year the Billerica and Bedford Railroad was formed and the line was built. It was opened in August 1877 and was 8.6 miles in length. Cost overruns killed the line after one year and the railroad went bankrupt and was sold. In 1885 the Boston and Lowell Railroad put in a standard gauge line along most of the original right of way. They followed the old narrow right of way (ROW) from Bedford Depot to Billerica's Nuttings Lake Village. There, rather than run the line over the steep Indian and Town Hills, they deviated to the west of Billerica Center and met the original ROW at the bottom of the north side of town hill and continued on the original path to North Billerica. The Boston and Maine Railroad took over the line in 1887. Station stops on the line along were South Billerica, Turnpike (Nuttings Lake), Billerica, Bennett Hall (none of these stations still stand) and North Billerica. Passenger service stopped on the last day of 1931 and the line was used as a freight line until it was abandoned from Bedford Depot to Billerica Depot in 1962. The line was further abandoned from Billerica Depot to Bennett Hall about 1980. The track was removed from Boston Road (Rte 3A) to Bedford Depot, it is still in place from Rte 3A to the North Billerica Station for trains to have access to the railroad repair shops in North Billerica. Trains very rarely run on the track now and it is completely overgrown with vegetation in front of the Marshall Middle School and also in a few spots along its way to North Billerica.

Notable residents

Sister cities

Billerica is a sister city of Billericaymarker, Englandmarker .


  1. Hobson, Archie. Cambridge Gazeteer of the United States and Canada. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995) p. 62
  2. Hazen, Henry. History of Billerica. (Boston: A. Williams and Co., 1883) p. 3-15
  3. The Key of Libberty; Shewing the Causes Why a Free Government Has Always Failed, and a Remedy Against It...; With Notes and a Foreword By Samuel Eliot Morison; by William Manning (1922)
  4. The Billerica Colonial Minute Men; The Thomas Ditson story; retrieved on July 10, 2008
  5. " Bellerica town, Massachusetts." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on August 27, 2009.
  6. " Table of Contents Page." Pan Am Railways. Retrieved on August 27, 2009.
  9. * Billerica and Bedford history
  10. *
  11. *
  12. *

External links

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