Pepperell, Massachusetts
Pepperell Covered Bridge
Pepperell Covered Bridge
Flag of Pepperell, Massachusetts
Official seal of Pepperell, Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°39′57″N 71°35′20″W / 42.66583°N 71.58889°W / 42.66583; -71.58889
CountryUnited States
Named forSir William Pepperrell
 • TypeOpen town meeting
 • Total23.2 sq mi (60.0 km2)
 • Land22.6 sq mi (58.4 km2)
 • Water0.6 sq mi (1.6 km2)
244 ft (74 m)
 • Total11,604
 • Density500/sq mi (190/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code351 / 978
FIPS code25-52805
GNIS feature ID0618231

Pepperell is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 11,604 at the 2020 census.[1] It includes the village of East Pepperell. Pepperell is home to the Pepperell Center Historic District, a covered bridge, and the 1901 Lawrence Library. The library has a collection of Sidney M. Shattuck's (1876–1917) stuffed birds.[2][3][4]


The old Pepperell covered bridge
The new Pepperell Covered Bridge

Pepperell was first settled in 1720 as a part of Groton, and was officially incorporated as its own town in 1775. The founders named it after Sir William Pepperrell, a Massachusetts colonial soldier who led the Siege of Louisbourg during the French and Indian War. The town was noted for its good soil and orchards.[citation needed]

Since its formation, the town was active in the American independence movement. Being located northwest of Concord, Pepperell never saw British attack during the American Revolutionary War, though several Pepperell men fought at the Old North Bridge during the Battle of Concord, and a British spy was captured by women on guard at the site of the Pepperell covered bridge (see Prudence Wright).[citation needed] Town resident William Prescott served as the commander at the Battle of Bunker Hill in what is now the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston.[5]

By 1837, when the population was 1,586, Pepperell had three paper mills, one of which was managed by Warren F. Daniell. It also produced palm leaf hats, boots and shoes.[6]

In 1848, the Worcester & Nashua Railroad was built through East Pepperell along the Nashua River as part of a through route from Worcester to Portland. In 1886 the line became part of the Boston & Maine Railroad, who continued to operate trains to Worcester and Nashua, as well as connections to Portland, Maine and beyond.

Pepperell was also a station on the Boston & Maine's Milford Branch between Squannacook Junction and Milford, New Hampshire. In 1938 the Milford Branch was abandoned from Pepperell to South Milford. Trains continued to operate as far as Pepperell until 1941 when the tracks to Squannacook Junction were also abandoned, leaving Pepperell's paper mill without direct rail service. To correct this, a trestle bridge and rail connection was constructed from the B&M's WN&P line over the Nashua River so that freights could still service the mill.[7]

1941 also saw the abandonment of the WN&P line between Hollis, New Hampshire and Nashua; as a result, the railroad renamed the remaining segment from Ayer, Massachusetts through East Pepperell the "Hollis Branch". Freight service, primarily to the mill, was provided by the B&M with a local freight out of Ayer until 1981. The Hollis Branch was abandoned in 1982 primarily due to poor track conditions, and the tracks themselves were pulled up in 1984.[8]

In 2001, what had been the railroad corridor was paved over to become part of the Nashua River Rail Trail.[9][10]

The Pepperell town library, the Lawrence Library, was designed by architects Ernest Flagg and Walter B. Chambers, and built in 1901. On June 29, 2009, the people of Pepperell voted "yes" on a Proposition 2½ override, effectively saving operations of the Lawrence Library, Senior Center, and Community Center. The override helped fill a $1.3 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2010.

The Lawrence Library

One of only three covered bridges on public Massachusetts roads that is open to vehicular traffic (and the only one east of the Connecticut River) is located on Groton Street in Pepperell. The current bridge officially opened on July 30, 2010, replacing the aging Chester H. Waterous Bridge which was closed to vehicles on April 7, 2008, and demolished beginning July 30, 2008. It took two years to construct the new covered bridge.[11][12]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 23.2 square miles (60.0 km2), of which 22.6 square miles (58.4 km2) is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) (2.63%) is water. Pepperell is located at the confluence of the Nissitissit River with the Nashua River. According to the Pepperell Reader, the town is situated on a long extinct volcano that helped shape much of New England's geology.

Pepperell borders Brookline and Hollis, New Hampshire to the north, Dunstable to the east, Groton to the south, Townsend to the west, and Nashua, New Hampshire to the northeast via the Nashua River.[13]

Pepperell is served by state routes 111, 113 and 119.


See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income

Historical population
* = population estimate.
Source: United States census records and Population Estimates Program data.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

As of the census[25] of 2010, there were 11,497 people, 3,847 households, and 3,016 families residing in the town. The population density was 495.6 inhabitants per square mile (191.4/km2). There were 4,348 housing units at an average density of 187.4 per square mile (72.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.61% White, 0.56% Black or African American, 0.04% Native American, 1.07% Asian, 2.71% from other races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.25% of the population.

There were 3,847 households, out of which 44.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.5% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.6% were non-families. Of all households 17.4% were made up of individuals, and 6.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.29.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 30.6% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 33.0% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 7.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $82,055, and the median income for a family was $97,870. The per capita income for the town was $35,144. About 2.0% of families and 3.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.8% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.


Pepperell is a part of the North Middlesex Regional School District, along with Ashby, and Townsend. Students in Pepperell attend Varnum Brook Elementary School for elementary school, and Nissitissit Middle School for middle school, and high school students attend North Middlesex Regional High School.[26]


Notable people

See also


  1. ^ "Census - Geography Profile: Pepperell town, Middlesex County, Massachusetts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  2. ^ "A library with a history all its own". August 14, 2009.
  3. ^ "Interiors of Lawrence Library, Pepperell, Mass".
  4. ^ "Lawrence Library".
  5. ^ "Pepperell Historical Commission". Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  6. ^ PEPPERELL, Massachusetts • Historic New England Hayward's New England Gazetteer of 1839]
  7. ^ "Abandonment Notices".
  8. ^ "Abandonment Notices".
  9. ^ "Pepperell Historical Commission". Archived from the original on August 19, 2011. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  10. ^ "Nashua River Rail Trail". Archived from the original on October 24, 2004.
  11. ^ ""Pepperell Covered Bridge Committee"".
  12. ^ "Pepperell Historical Commission". Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  13. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps.
  14. ^ "Total Population (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010.
  15. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  16. ^ "1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1990. Table 76: General Characteristics of Persons, Households, and Families: 1990. 1990 CP-1-23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  17. ^ "1980 Census of the Population, Number of Inhabitants: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1981. Table 4. Populations of County Subdivisions: 1960 to 1980. PC80-1-A23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  18. ^ "1950 Census of Population" (PDF). Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  19. ^ "1920 Census of Population" (PDF). Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  20. ^ "1890 Census of the Population" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  21. ^ "1870 Census of the Population" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  22. ^ "1860 Census" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1864. Pages 220 through 226. State of Massachusetts Table No. 3. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  23. ^ "1850 Census" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  24. ^ "City and Town Population Totals: 2020-2022". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 4, 2023.
  25. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  26. ^ "Pepperell Public Schools". Archived from the original on March 16, 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
  27. ^ "Barbara Cooney - Penguin Group (USA) Authors - Penguin Group (USA)". Archived from the original on May 14, 2006.
  28. ^ The Harvard Gazette February 8, 2017, Article by Edward Louis Keenan, Jr

Further reading