The Merrimack Manufacturing Company begins operation


Detail from the 1850 "Plan of the City of Lowell Massachusetts from actual surveys by Sidney & Neff" where pictures of buildings and houses surround the map of Lowell.

The Birth of an Industrial City


The opening of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company on this site in 1823, marked the beginning of America’s first industrial city.


The Merrimack was the largest of Lowell’s mill complexes. By 1848, it employed over 2,000 workers and produced more than 7,000 miles of cloth each year. Like its parent company in Waltham, the Merrimack combined all of the steps of cloth production under a single roof. No longer were carding, spinning, and weaving performed in separate mills. This integrated manufacturing system succeeded on a large scale for the first time in Lowell.

When it closed in 1958, the Merrimack was one of Lowell’s last surviving mills. It was razed in the 1960s, a victim of the wrecking ball.

- The inscription on the Lowell National Historic Park marker on French Street

East Chelmsford (Lowell) in 1825 by Benjamin Mather

"From left to right the principal buildings are the Machine Shop, the Merrimack Mills, St. Anne's Church, and Kirk Boott's house at the extreme right." Wilson Waters. History of Chelmsford, Massachusetts (1917)

John Ingersoll Coggeshall (1856-1927).Click here for a pdf download of the exhibit brochure "STRONG LIGHT AND OPEN SPACES John Ingersoll Coggeshall (1857-1927) Painter, Photographer, Engraver"

Section of Lowell Canal System, Merrimack & Concord Rivers, Lowell, Middlesex County, MA

The Merrimank Canal was the first major power canal in Lowell. It runs from the Pawtucket Canal at the Swamp Locks to the Merrimack River, While the later canals used a 17-foot drop and 13-foot drop two-level sytem, the Merrimack Canal used the full 32-foot drop of the Merrimack River all at once. Water power was the only available energy for mills until the 1850's.