The discovery of iron ore at Saugus in 1630 determined the future of the community as an industrial center. The initial settlers probably came from Governor Endicott's Salem colony in 1629–1630. Iron production by 1640 attracted further immigrants, although iron production ceased by 1688. The area became the west parish of Lynn in 1638, but a meetinghouse was not raised until 1736–1737. Following the Revolution, two major toll roads from Boston, the Newburyport Turnpike (1802–1805) and the Salem Turnpike (1802–1807), spurred further growth and separate incorporation as a town in 1815. By this time, three mill sites on the Saugus River attracted a range of industries—textile manufacture, spice grinding, chocolate making, snuff grinding, and nail making. Throughout the nineteenth century, shoemaking, woolen flannels, and tobacco products joined this industrial base, engendering the development of worker housing. After the Civil War, new populations moved to Saugus to fill the mills and factories, but the industrial base began to erode in the opening quarter of the twentieth century. By midcentury, Saugus had become primarily a residential area, its workers traveling to Lynn or Boston for employment. In the late 1930s, the Massachusetts Department of Public Works enlarged the old Newburyport Turnpike route as a divided, limited access highway, setting the stage for a commercial strip corridor of great exuberance.
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