Merrimac is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, part of the Greater Boston metropolitan area. Situated along the north bank of the Merrimack River in the Merrimack Valley, it faces the southeastern border of New Hampshire, approximately 34 miles (55 km) northeast of Boston and 10 miles (16 km) west of the Atlantic Ocean. Historically a manufacturing center, it has long since become a largely residential community. Merrimac is governed by the New England town meeting form of government.
In the nineteenth century, benefiting from a manufacturing boom following the establishment of some of the first planned industrial cities in the U.S., Merrimac came to be known worldwide for its horse-drawn carriage industry. During this period, the town proper of Merrimac, centered around Merrimac Square, expanded separately from the village of Merrimacport.
In 1876, Merrimac, including Merrimacport, separated from Amesbury and officially incorporated itself as a town. It is believed that the town, as well as the river that runs along its southern border, are both named for the American Indian tribe that occupied the region. Merrimac (or Merrimack) means “swift water place” in the language of this tribe. This town center, surrounded by much of the town’s population, consists of the typical brick buildings and Victorian architecture of the late 19th century. Interstate 495 now divides Merrimacport from Merrimac.