Dracut Massachusetts, 1890

Dracut is a pleasant farming and manufacturing town, forming the northeast corner of Middlesex County, 27 miles northwest of Boston. It has Lowell adjoining it on the south, from part of which it is separated by the Merrimack, across which at this place are several fine bridges. Methuen bounds it on the east, Tyngsborough on the west, and Pelham, in New Hampshire, on the north. The area is about 25 square miles; and there are 3,133 acres of woods, mostly of pine, oak and birch. The assessed area is 12,500 acres.

The highest elevations are Loon Hill in the southeast, Marsh Hill in the north, and the Whortleberry Hills in the northwest, all of which afford beautiful views of the city of Lowell and the adjacent country. The ponds are Peter's, in the northeast part of the town, and Mud, Long and Tyng's, in the western part; the last lying on the boundary line, all very attractive features in the scenery. Beaver River flows through the midst of the town from the north, entering the Merrimack below Pawtucket Falls. On this stream are the Merrimack Woolen Mills, employing about 325 persons; Collins' mill for hosiery and knit goods; Parker's paper mill, making manilla and other colored papers, and a large saw mill. The value of the entire manufactured product in 1885 was $838,848.

There is a large quantity of building stone quarried in the town. The geological formation is calcareous gneiss and Merrimack schist. There is said to be a mine of nickel in the eastern part of the town. The soil is generally very good, and many of the people are engaged in raising vegetables. The number of farms is 135; and some of them are among the best for hay in the country. The number of neat cattle, by the last census, was 1,430. The aggregate farm product was $242,233. The valuation in 1888 was $1,285,946, with a tax-rate of $8.90 on $1,000. The population was 1,927, and the voters numbered 397. There were 326 dwelling-houses.

The schools are partially graded, and occupy nine buildings which have a value of about $10,000. There are here a Methodist and two Congregational churches The Old Centre Church, founded in 1721, stands upon an eminence, commanding an extensive view.

This town was incorporated in 1701, and was named Dracut from the home of the Varnum family in Wales. There were sections of it annexed to Lowell in 1851, 1874 and 1879. At the time of its incorporation it had 25 families. Among the names of those in possession of reserved lots January 2, 1710, were Ezekiel Cheever from Salem village, James Colburn, Onesimus Marsh, Nathaniel Fox, John Varnum, Joseph Varnum and Josiah Richardson. In 1797, Parker Varnum of this town aided in constructing, at Pawtucket Falls, the first bridge across the Merrimack River. During King Philip's War two sons of Samuel Varnum were shot by the Indians while crossing the Merrimack River with their father. Dracut was represented at the battle of Bunker Hill by Captain Peter Colburn and his company, who did important service; and all through the Revolution by General Joseph B., and his brother, General James M., Varnum, who were distinguished in council as well as in the field. During the war of the Rebellion Dracut sent into the service its full share of effective men.

The town has many admirable sites for building, and is steadily advancing in wealth, population and intelligence.

Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 277-278