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|the north side of the river from Beaver Brook
to the present entrance of Pawtucket Boulevard. Portions of the original
boundary ditch still exist.
The settlement that developed on the north side of the river was first called Pawtucket Village. The name Pawtucketville can be traced to the construction of the Merrimack-Middlesex Bridge at Pawtucket Falls in 1792, the first bridge that spanned the Merrimack River. On the north side of the bridge, a small village began to develop. This community was originally known as the Village at Pawtucket Falls or Pawtucket Village, and by the time of annexation in 1874, as Pawtucketville.
The early communities of Chelmsford and Dracut were separated by the Merrimack River. This geographical isolation required a great deal of self-sufficiency from those early English settlers on the north side of the river. The significance of the Merrimack as an obstacle to settlement is clearly illustrated by the fact that Chelmsford was incorporated in 1655 and Dracut not until 1701. This is one reason why Pawtucketville can claim so many firsts and oldests: Lowell's oldest schoolhouse, Coburn Schoolhouse, built in 1755; Webb-Durkee House, circa 1656; Varnum Garrison House, 1676; Edward Colburn Garrison House, 1676; Thomas Varnum House, 1745; Lowell's earliest burial ground, Clay Pit Cemetery; Lowell's first minister, Rev. Thomas Parker; and Lowell's earliest established church, Pawtucket Congregational, 1797. During the Colonial period, the only method of crossing the river was by ferry. Old Ferry Road, which once connected to the toll road and north into the interior of New Hampshire, still exists in Pawtucketville.
The Bridge Brings Change
The Proprietors of Locks
and Canal built its massive brick mills and absorbed the ancient community
of East Chelmsford. The citizens of Pawtucketville likely considered
the establishment of Lowell as an economic opportunity, yet a negative
impact was evident. The construction of the Pawtucket Dam in 1822
resulted in the destruction of the ancient spawning cycle of
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