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.
Coordinates: 42°47′18″N 71°12′03″W / 42.78833°N 71.20083°W / 42.78833; -71.20083
CountryUnited States
StateNew Hampshire
 • Town council
 • Town ManagerChristopher A. Dillon
 • Total25.90 sq mi (67.07 km2)
 • Land24.84 sq mi (64.33 km2)
 • Water1.05 sq mi (2.73 km2)  4.07%
131 ft (40 m)
 • Total30,089
 • Density1,209/sq mi (466.7/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Code
Area code603
FIPS code33-66660
GNIS feature ID0873713

Salem is a town in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 30,089 at the 2020 census[3] and an estimated 30,647 in 2022.[citation needed] Salem is a northern suburb of Boston located on Interstate 93. As the first town along I-93 northbound in New Hampshire, which lacks any state sales tax, Salem has grown into a regional commercial hub for many nearby Massachusetts towns, anchored by the Mall at Rockingham Park and Tuscan Village. 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.[4]


The Square, now known as Salem Depot, in 1908

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. The town was incorporated in 1750 by colonial governor Benning Wentworth.[5] The meetinghouse of the old north parish, erected in 1738, still stands, eventually becoming the town hall of Salem before it was turned into the Salem Historical Society museum.[6]

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.[7]

Other features of Salem's tourism history include America's Stonehenge, a curiosity (formerly "Mystery Hill"). Other attractions include the Icenter, a skating arena, as well as Field of Dreams and Hedgehog Pond Park.

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. Commercial construction has continued to focus on Route 28, as well as on the commercial zone off Exit 2 on Interstate 93. Starting in 2017, the Tuscan Village complex has been under construction, a multi-million dollar mixed-use commercial property that includes retail, medical offices, condos, and apartments. The complex is being built on the site of the former Rockingham Park race track.[8]

The Manchester and Lawrence branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad ran through Salem until 2001. In 2009, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation commissioned a study exploring the 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.[9]


Town offices

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 25.9 square miles (67.1 km2), of which 24.8 square miles (64.3 km2) are land and 1.0 square mile (2.7 km2) are water, comprising 4.07% of the town.[2] Salem is drained by the Spicket River and its tributary Policy Brook, part of the Merrimack River watershed. 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.[10] 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 the town. Via I-93, Boston is 35 miles (56 km) to the south and Manchester is 20 miles (32 km) to the northwest.

Adjacent municipalities


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[11]
Under the Apple Tree in 1908, Canobie Lake Park

At the 2000 census,[12] there were 28,112 people, 10,402 households and 7,603 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,138.0 inhabitants per square mile (439.4/km2). There were 10,866 housing units at an average density of 439.9 per square mile (169.8/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 town vote
by party in presidential elections[13]
Year Democratic Republican Third Parties
2020 42.81% 7,638 55.88% 9,969 1.31% 234
2016 37.41% 6,068 57.40% 9,312 5.19% 842
2012 41.66% 6,026 57.27% 8,285 1.07% 155
2008 45.27% 6,838 53.45% 8,073 1.28% 194
2004 45.06% 6,472 54.28% 7,797 0.66% 95
2000 47.73% 5,711 47.75% 5,713 4.52% 541
1996 47.82% 5,164 39.42% 4,257 12.76% 1,378
1992 33.49% 4,184 38.93% 4,864 27.59% 3,447
1988 31.97% 3,512 66.57% 7,314 1.47% 161
1984 31.33% 3,021 68.27% 6,583 0.39% 38
1980 31.51% 3,047 55.31% 5,348 13.19% 1,275
1976 54.10% 4,983 43.37% 3,994 2.53% 233
1972 44.46% 3,923 54.70% 4,827 0.84% 74
1968 50.44% 3,637 45.80% 3,302 3.76% 271
1964 63.45% 3,685 36.55% 2,123 0.00% 0
1960 42.87% 1,993 57.13% 2,656 0.00% 0

Salem's town government consists of a town council and a town manager. Salem is a part of New Hampshire House District 25 and is currently represented by nine Republican representatives: Lori Ball, Tanya Donnelly, Fred Doucette, John Janigian, Dennis Mannion, Valerie McDonnell, Joe Sweeney, John Sytek and Susan Vandecasteele. In the New Hampshire Senate, Salem is in the 22nd District and is currently represented by Republican Daryl Abbas. On the New Hampshire Executive Council, Salem is in District 3 and is currently represented by Republican Janet Stevens. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Salem is in New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district and is currently represented by Democrat Ann McLane Kuster.

Salem is a Republican stronghold in presidential elections. No Democratic presidential nominee has carried the town since Bill Clinton received a plurality of the vote in 1996.


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.[14]

High school
Private school


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

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

Salem in popular culture

Rockingham Park racetrack was located in Salem. As mentioned in the film The Sting starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, it 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


  1. ^ "Town Council". Town of Salem, New Hampshire. Retrieved July 21, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "2021 U.S. Gazetteer Files – New Hampshire". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  3. ^ "Census - Geography Profile: Salem town, Rockingham County, New Hampshire". Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  4. ^ "Salem, New Hampshire is No. 37 on Money's Best Places to Live list". Money. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  5. ^ Edgar Gilbert's History of Salem, N.H. (1907)
  6. ^ Gilbert
  7. ^ Seed, Douglas, & Khalife, Katherine (1996). Salem, NH. Volume II - Trolleys, Canobie Lake, and Rockingham Park, Images of America. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-0438-5.
  8. ^ DeAngelis, Allison (April 11, 2018). "Large companies eye space in Salem's Tuscan Village". The Eagle-Tribune. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  9. ^ HNTB Corporation (2009). "I-93 Corridor Multi-Modal Transit Investment Study".
  10. ^ "Is there fluoride in the water?". Town of Salem New Hampshire. Town of Salem, NH. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  11. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  12. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  13. ^ "Election Results".
  14. ^ "Best Places to Live in Salem, New Hampshire". Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  15. ^ "Pamela Gidley". Archived from the original on June 7, 2023. Retrieved June 7, 2023.
  16. ^ "SUNUNU, John E. - Biographical Information". Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  17. ^ Axelrod, Tal (December 2018). "Ex-chief of staff mourns George H.W. Bush: 'I will miss a great friend'".