Chelmsford is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts in the Greater Lowell area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the town's population was 33,802. It is located northwest of Boston and, bordering on the city of Lowell, is part of the Greater Lowell metropolitan area. Besides Lowell on its northeast, Chelmsford is surrounded by five towns: Tyngsborough to the north, Tewksbury to the east, Billerica to the southeast, Carlisle to the south, and Westford to the west. Chelmsford is bordered by two sizable rivers: the Merrimack River to the north, and the Concord River to the east.
Named after Chelmsford, England, the town was incorporated in May 1655 by an act of the Massachusetts General Court. When Chelmsford was incorporated, its local economy was fueled by lumber mills, limestone quarries and kilns. The Chelmsford militia played a role in the American Revolution at the Battle of Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill. The farming community of East Chelmsford was incorporated as Lowell in the 1820s; over the next decades it would go on to become one of the first large-scale factory towns in the United States because of its early role in the country's Industrial Revolution. Chelmsford experienced a drastic increase in population between 1950 and 1970, coinciding with the connection of U.S. Route 3 in Lowell to Massachusetts Route 128 in the 1950s and the extension of U.S. Route 3 from Chelmsford to New Hampshire in the 1960s.
Chelmsford has a representative town meeting form of government. The current town manager is Paul Cohen. The town has one public high school – Chelmsford High School – as well as two middle schools, and four elementary schools. The charter middle school started in Chelmsford became a regional charter school (Innovation Academy Charter School) covering grades 5 through 12, now located in Tyngsborough. In 2011, Chelmsford was declared the 28th best place to live in the United States by Money magazine.
Settlers from the adjacent communities of Woburn and Concord founded Chelmsford. An act of the Massachusetts General Court in the last week of May 1655 town incorporated Chelmsford, and it was named after Chelmsford, England. The nearby communities of Groton and Billerica were incorporated at the same time. Chelmsford originally contained the neighboring town of Westford, and parts of Carlisle, Tyngsborough, and a large part of Lowell (formerly known as East Chelmsford). Both the Middlesex Canal and Middlesex Turnpike, major transportation routes, were built through Chelmsford in the first part of the 19th century.
The Chelmsford militia played a role in the American Revolution at the Battle of Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, the latter where Colonel Moses Parker (namesake of the Parker School) and Captain Benjamin Walker of this town were killed.
Chelmsford was the birthplace of the Chelmsford Spring Co. in 1901, which later became the Chelmsford Ginger Ale Company, acquired by Canada Dry in 1928. The ginger ale plant, rebuilt in 1912 after a disastrous fire consumed the original plant, stood on Route 110 until its demolition in 1994. The Chelmsford brand of golden ginger ale continued to be manufactured by Canada Dry for decades. It is currently manufactured by Polar Beverages for DeMoulas/Market Basket supermarkets, based out of neighboring Tewksbury.