is a suburban town
in Middlesex County
, United States
about twenty-one miles west-northwest of Boston
along Route 2
west of Concord
and about ten miles (18 km) southwest of Lowell
. The population was 20,331 at the 2000 census. It is bordered by Westford
to the north, Concord
to the east, Stow
to the south, and Boxborough
to the west. Acton became an incorporated town in 1735
. The town is run by 5 selectmen and a town manager.
Acton is located at . According to the United States Census Bureau
, the town has a total area of 20.3 square miles (52.5 km²), of which 20.0 square miles (51.7 km²) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km²), or 1.53 percent, is water. Most of the land may be described as rocky hills. Almost all of Acton is forested, except for where it has been cleared for residential or agricultural use.
The current geography of Acton was created when the last wave of glaciers retreated approximately ten thousand years ago. Acton has nine drumlins - hills which are composed of glacial till. In addition, Wills Hole and Grassy Pond are kettle ponds which were formed in depressions in the till formed by large blocks of ice.
Acton has two primary stream systems: the Nashoba Brook system including the incoming streams Butter Brook, Will's Hole Brook and Conant Brook and the Fort Pond Brook system including the incoming streams Guggins Brook, Inch Brook, Grassy Pond Brook, Pratt's Brook and Coles Brook. Both stream systems empty into the Assabet River. Acton borders on Nagog Pond in the north, and there is a small artificial pond at Nara Park in North Acton.
The five village centers
While Acton Center has been the civic center of the town since the revolution, the four other villages centers earned their nomenclature from the names of their corresponding railroad station. A description of each center is below.
- Acton Center is the civic center of the town and is the site of the town hall, the main public library, a children's playground, an obelisk monument commemorating Acton deaths in "the Concord Fight" of the Revolutionary War, a Congregational church, a 64 acre arboretum and conservation area, and the former post office. The modern post office and the police station are each located about one-half mile away in opposite directions along Main Street. Otherwise, Acton Center is generally a residential area.
- West Acton is an important commercial area of town, consisting primarily of numerous commercial developments along the western part of Route 111. It developed in response to the growth of the Fitchburg railroad in the 19th century. The West Acton Station was located on land now occupied by New London Pizza. As a commercial center, it contained a refrigerated apple storage warehouse, just north of the Old St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, that was serviced by a rail spur. West Acton has also served as the shopping area for the nearby town of Boxborough.
- South Acton use to be the most industrialized area of town. In the eighteenth century this area held many mills and other small industrial developments that used water power generated by Fort Pond Brook, which includes the Faulkner Homestead; the oldest home still standing in Acton. The Faulkner Homestead was owned by the Faulkner family who owned and ran a mill across the street which is also still standing today and is still utilized in the fashion of selling grain and feed. The South Acton MBTA commuter rail station is the only station on the Fitchburg line still active in Acton.
- East Acton was a small commercial area that grew around the East Acton train station in the 19th century. However, with the advent of the automobile and the demise of this branch of the railroad, East Acton became a residential area with a small commercial base that focuses largely on the commuter traffic on Route 2A.
- North Acton has had major growth in the past 30 years. In the eighteenth century it held a small store, a school and a church/meetinghouse. A post office was located at the intersection of Ledgerock Way and Main Street, near the old train station, and operated into the middle of the 20th century. With the growth of automobile traffic, these ventures folded and North Acton became primarily a farming area that developed into a residential area in the 20th century. With the growth of the Rte 2A/119 corridor, North Acton has developed many commercial complexes and condominium buildings. The North Acton Recreation Area (also called Nara Park) contains a small swimming pond, an open air auditorium, playing fields, and hiking trails.
The current Master Plan for the town encourages development in the village centers in an attempt to prevent further sprawl and preserve open space in the rest of the town.
According to the census
of 2000, there were 20,331 people, 7,495 households, and 5,538 families residing in the town. The population density
was 1,018.1 per square mile (393.1/km²). There were 7,680 housing units at an average density of 384.6 per square mile (148.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95% White
, 1% Asian
, 3% African American
, 0% Native American
, 0.35% Pacific Islander
, 8% from other races
, and 0.65% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 30% of the population.
Of the 7,495 households, 43.1 percent had children under the age of eighteen living with them, 65.1 percent were married couples living together, 6.5 percent had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.1 percent were non-families. 21.4 percent of all households were made up of individuals and 5.3 percent had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.19.
The age distribution of the population was 29.5 percent under the age of 18, 4.3 percent from 18 to 24, 31.5 percent from 25 to 44, 26.4 percent from 45 to 64, and 8.4 percent 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 97.2 males. For every 100 females age eighteen and over, there were 94.2 males.
For those aged 25 years or older in Acton during the 2000 census, 97.8 percent had a high school degree or higher, 69.3 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher, and 33.9 percent had a graduate degree or higher. Also, 98.0 percent were employed with a mean commute time of 31.0 minutes.
The median income for a household in the town was $91,624, and the median income for a family was $108,189. Males had a median income of $77,371 versus $47,113 for females. The per capita income for the town was $41,901. About 1.7 percent of families and 2.9 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.4 percent of those under age 18 and 3.3 percent of those age 65 or over.
Acton's history reflects the history of Massachusetts, New England, and the United States.
Acton was first settled by Native Americans who used the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord rivers for transportation and the fields for farming seasonal crops. There is evidence of Native American settlements in Acton which go back 7000 years. When the colonists arrived in this area, the Native American population dropped dramatically due to European diseases for which they had no immunity.
Colonization Era through Revolutionary Era
Concord was the first colonial town that was settled in this area. Concord residents used the land which is now Acton as grazing fields for their animals. The first colonial residents moved to Acton in 1639.
Acton was established as an independent town on July 3rd, 1735. Acton has held annual town meetings since 1735, the records of which are held at Acton's Memorial Library.
Acton residents participated in the growing hostility with Great Britain by sending a list of grievances to King George III on Oct. 3rd, 1774. The anniversary of this day is celebrated in Acton as Crown Resistance Day.
At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, on April 19, 1775, a company of minutemen from Acton responded to the call to arms initiated by Paul Revere (who rode with other riders, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, with Prescott the only one of the three who was able reach Acton itself) and fought at the North Bridge in Concord as part of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The Acton minutemen were led by Captain Isaac Davis. When a company was needed to lead the advance on the bridge which was defended by the British regulars, Captain Davis was heard to reply, "I haven't a man who is afraid to go." The Acton men led because, unlike other militias there, they were fully equipped with bayonets.
The colonists advanced on the bridge; in the exchange of musket fire that followed, Captain Isaac Davis and Private James Hayward were killed and Abner Hosmer, also of Acton, was mortally wounded. Davis was the first officer to die in the American Revolutionary War. In Acton they refer to "the battle of Lexington, fought in Concord, by men of Acton."
Each year on Patriot's Day (the 3rd Monday in April), the Acton Minutemen lead a march from Acton Center to the Old North Bridge in Concord. This route is known as 'The Isaac Davis Trail' and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1957, Acton's Troop 1 of the Boy Scouts of America have organized an annual march along the Isaac Davis line of march, and since 1976 the "Scouters of the Isaac Davis Trail" have organized the annual Isaac Davis Camporee
Industrialization and Civil War
During the 19th century, Acton participated in the growing Industrial Revolution
. By the mid-1800s, Acton was an industrial center for the production of barrels
(cooperage). There were also three gristmills
and four sawmills
On October 1st, 1844 the railroad came to Acton. The Fitchburg Railroad was routed through South and West Acton so that it could serve the mills. South Acton became a busy rail center and was the division point for the Marlborough Branch Railroad which ran through the towns of Maynard, Sudbury and Hudson. With the railroad came increasing development in those areas. In addition to the Fitchburg Railroad, two others crossed the town: the Nashua and Acton, and the Framingham and Lowell. These two railroads shared a double track right-of-way that ran from West Concord (aka Concord Junction) through East Acton and then splitting in North Acton in the vicinity of Route 27 and Ledgerock Way. The Nashua and Acton, which took a circuitous route through Westford and Dunstable to reach Nashua, New Hampshire, was absorbed into the Boston and Maine Railroad system and abandoned in the mid 1920s. The Framingham & Lowell was part of the Northern Old Colony division of the New Haven Railroad. The last trains ran on the line in the early 1990s carrying lumber to North Acton.
In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. In response, Acton Town Meeting passed a set of resolutions condemning the Act. The governor of Massachusetts, John Albion Andrew, in 1861 urged all towns to prepare their militia units for the threatening war. On April 12th, 1861 the American Civil War began.
"On April 15, President Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 volunteers. By 7:30 the next morning, Captain Tuttle with his entire command of 52 men reported to Lowell, fully equipped and ready for duty. Company E of Acton of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment was to be the first company of the first regiment of the Union Army to arrive in Washington in response to the President's call.
In 1874, the population of the town was almost 1700. The town established its first newspaper, The Acton Patriot, and the residents of West Acton formed the first library, The Citizen's Library. In 1890, the Memorial Library was completed and given to the town by William A. Wilde as a memorial to the Acton soldiers who fought in the Civil War.
The twentieth century brought great changes to Acton. The population rose dramatically from approximately 2000 residents at the beginning of the century to 20,000 residents at the end. At the beginning of the century, the town consisted of five village centers and basic town services. By the end, the village centers were less noticeable, and the town services were more substantial.
W. R. Grace Superfund Site
In the early 1950s, W. R. Grace and Company
established a manufacturing facility in South Acton to produce concrete additives, organic chemicals and other industrial materials. W. R. Grace disposed of industrial waste from this facility in unlined impoundments (lagoons
) through 1980.
In 1978 vinylidene chloride and other industrial contaminants were detected in two of the town wells, Assabet 1 and Assabet 2, which were closed. In 1983 the Acton W. R. Grace site was placed on the list of EPA Superfund sites as a National Priority for cleanup.
In August, 2006, W. R. Grace and the EPA reached agreement on a scope-of-work pact that describes the work necessary to clean up the site.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the mills built along the Assabet River
, Nashoba Brook and other tributaries were in decline. The primary business in town was agriculture
The growth of the automobile and the roads to serve it changed Acton considerably. The importance of the railroads decreased as automobiles and truck traffic grew in importance. Route 128 was completed in 1927 and caused an industrial boom. During the latter half of the century, the road network made Acton accessible as a bedroom community which provided workers for other more industrial towns nearby. Acton's farmland turned into housing developments. The first large subdivision was Indian Village in West Acton in 1955.
Current commercial property in town comprises a lumber mill, an automotive fabric manufacuturer, the Nagog Office park, and retail properties located along routes 2A, 27 and 111.
Acton uses the Open Town Meeting
form of town government. The town charter
specifies that the annual town meeting must begin on the first Monday in April. The selectmen
may also call a special town meeting at other times of the year to consider other business. Citizens may force a special town meeting by submitting a petition signed by 200 registered voters to the town clerk. Anyone may attend Town Meeting but only registered voters may vote. At annual Town Meeting the selectmen present the town and school budgets. Town Meeting may also consider zoning articles and other articles related to town business. Acton also has a water district, which is run separately from town government, as a public utility. The water district holds a separate open town meeting in March.
Acton's elected officials include the following: the board of selectmen (5 members), the town moderator, the Acton public school committee (6 members), the Acton representatives to the Acton / Boxborough regional school committee (6 members) and the water commissioners (3 members). In addition, the town moderator appoints a finance committee (9 members) which issues an opinion on each of the warrant articles presented to Town Meeting.
The town services are primarily funded through the residential property tax.
The civic infrastructure grew to accommodate the increasing population. A Water District was established in 1912 and a town-wide Fire Department was established in 1913. Acton was the first town in the area to have water-bound macadam
highways. In 1954, the Town established a Planning Board which developed regulations regarding the development of subdivisions.
In 2005 a new Public Safety Building was built that expanded space for the Police Department and provided for a Joint Dispatch area with the Fire Department.
The Acton Water District is a community public water supply that delivers drinking water to the majority (about 90 percent) of the residents of the town of Acton, Massachusetts. All of the water provided from the District comes from seven wells
located within the town of Acton. The District's system consists of of water main, four storage tanks, and a variety of treatment facilities that assist in the production of finished water.
Acton does not provide curbside trash pickup services. Acton has a public transfer station where Acton residents may bring their trash, yard waste, and recycling. Transfer station permits cost $181 dollars per year and the station is open Tuesday through Saturday. Many residents also contract with private companies who do provide waste removal services.
Most homes and businesses in Acton (approximately 80%) use private on-site sewage systems (i.e. septic tanks
). Higher density developments such as condominiums and apartment buildings (approximately 10% of the town) use private sewers which go to small-scale private treatment plants.
In 2001, Acton completed its first public sewer system, which serves approximately 10% of the town, primarily in South Acton. There are current plans to expand the sewer system and this is generating a lot of controversy in town.
The proponents of expanding the sewer treatment cite several advantages.
- Sewers will provide relief for homeowners whose septic systems cannot meet current Title 5 requirements because of the distance from the ground to the underground water table.
- Sewers will provide better treatment for sewage than can be provided in septic tanks and thus help protect the town water system which is based on underground aquifers.
- Sewers will allow businesses to expand in village centers and thus improve the economic situation for the town as well as providing additional local shopping and services.
The opponents of expanding the sewer treatment cite several concerns.
- Sewers tend to lead to higher density development. If this happens in residential areas, the population could increase which causes pressure on town services and expenses.
- Sewers concentrate pollutants which are currently distributed across a wider geographic area. While a sewer system treats organic pollutants, it does not remove some non-organic pollutants such as medicines, etc. If the sewage system discharge occurs near the town water supply, the water supply system could be compromised in ways that are not immediately apparent.
- Sewers concentrate the waste water from a large geographic area. This means that there will be less re-charging of the aquifer in the town as a whole which could impact the town's water supply.
has a total of over of town-owned conservation lands.
- Acton Arboretum: A park in the center of Acton which consists of 53 acres of woods, meadows, swamp, ponds, old apple orchards, a glacial esker, and a bog. The land was purchased by the town in 1976 and was designated an Arboretum in 1986. It now includes a nineteenth century herb garden, a hosta garden, a wildflower garden, a butterfly garden and a rhododendron garden. A fragrance garden is being constructed.
- Pratt's Brook: A 57 acre property located in South Acton.
- Great Hill. A property located in South Acton behind the School Street fire station, which includes barbecue grills, picnic tables, and a jungle gym. In addition there is a skating pond and two sets of playing fields. Parking Access also located across from Mobil Station on Main Street.
- Grassy Pond and Nagog Hill. Two adjoining conservation areas located in North Acton which total 250 acres (1 km²) of land.
- Wills Hole Conservation Area and Town Forest. A 73 acre property located in North Acton off of Quarry Road, adjacent to the North Acton Recreation Area (NARA Park) among the wills hole conservation area there is a very intersecting ecosystem. Which includes a Quaking Bog and abuts a no longer used granite quarry (private property).
- Nashoba Brook, Spring Hill, Camp Acton. Three adjoining conservation areas in North Acton that total over . Additional adjoining acerage will be added when the Robbins Mill development is completed. The trails in this area are Acton's portion of the Bay Circuit Trail and Greenway which is a planned hiking path that will encircle Boston - starting in Ipswich and ending in Duxbury. The Bruce Freeman Bike Trail will run through the Nashoba Brook portion. Camp Acton, a former boy scout retreat area, contains seven campsites while in the Nashoba Brook area there is the site of a 19th century pencil factory. Parking access is located off of Spring Hill Road, Wheeler Lane, and Davis Road.
- Bulette Land/ Town Forest consists of 22 acres, mainly of forest. The remainder of the land is made up of marshland and a glacial esker.
- Heath Hen Meadow consists of 99 acres of land. It is aptly named for the once abundant, partridge-like relative of the prairie chicken that became extinct early in the 20th century.
- Jenks Land consists of 30 acres of land. It is home to over 170 species of birds that one man had recorded one year.
- Morrison Farm & Ice House Pond: Located off of Concord Rd, these 70 acres includes a house, a stable and corral, and various open fields and water.
These town conservation areas, and some smaller ones, are described and mapped in a website maintained by the town's volunteer Land Stewardship Committee.
Playing Fields & Playgrounds
- Elm Street Complex: Contains two tennis courts and a lighted baseball diamond, primarily used by the Adult Softball League. It is adjacent to the Douglas School yard which contains a baseball diamond and a basketball court.
- North Acton Recreation Area (NARA): Contains a baseball/softball diamond, a large configurable field suitable for other ball games, a swimming pond, playground and performance stage.
- Veterans Field: Contains two baseball diamonds and a playground.
- Jones Field: It contains a single baseball diamond and a playground.
- Great Hill: Contains a large configurable field, a smaller single soccer field, and a playground. This is located in the front portion of the conservation area.
- School Street Fields: Located off School Street near Route 2 is a large configurable playing field.
- Concord Road: Located next to Morrison Farm on Woodlawn Cemetery land.
At the beginning of the century, each village in Acton had its own grade school, but the town struggled with how to provide a high school education for its students. For most of the early twentieth century (until 1925), Acton students were sent to Concord's high school.
In 1953, new schools were constructed to accommodate the growth in the student population. In 1957, Acton and Boxborough created a regional school district for grades 7 - 12. The Merriam School was constructed in 1958. Other schools quickly followed (Douglas (1966), Gates (1968), and Conant (1971)). In 1967 a building was constructed for the Junior High. In 1973 a huge addition was added to this building and it became the high school (the junior high moved to the old high school building).
Acton Public School District (Elementary)
The Acton Public School District
consists of five elementary schools and the Acton Public School Pre-school. Acton has an unusual method of assigning students to elementary schools, called "Open Enrollment". First time incoming Kindergarten parents participate in a lottery based selection process where the parents "choose" the school by listing their preferences in ranked order.
This method of school choice has a large impact on the nature of the town. Acton is less oriented around neighborhoods than towns which have neighborhood based schools. Other child-oriented activities such as town sport teams are also not organized around the school system. As a result, students and families are likely to have social connections which are independent of the neighborhood in which they live.
While the curriculum in the district is fairly standardized, each of the elementary schools has a different teaching philosophy. The schools and their philosophy of education are:
- Conant School Named for Luther Conant who taught for 17 years in the school district, served on the School Committee and was Town Moderator for 40 years. The school emphasizes the Whole language approach when teaching students to read. The Conant School has an English as a Second Language (ESL) program.
- Douglas School Named for Carolyn T. Douglas who was a teacher and principal in the Acton schools from 1940 to 1967. The school emphasizes Phonics as a system for learning to read. The Douglas School has an ESL program (English as a Second Language).
- Gates School Named for Paul P. Gates who was the school physician from 1948 to 1968. The school emphasizes Phonics as a system for learning to read.
- McCarthy-Towne School Named for Julia McCarthy who taught at the South Acton School from 1906 to 1952 and Marion Towne who was a teacher in the primary and secondary schools in Acton from 1921 to 1959. McCarthy-Towne integrates language arts, math, social studies, science and art in the study of curriculum "units." The school has an ESL (English as a Second Language) program and also includes two CASE (Concord Area Special Education) classrooms. McCarthy-Towne has a very active parent volunteer program. McCarthy-Towne School is housed in the Parker Damon Building (named for McCarthy-Towne's first principal, J.Parker Damon),which it shares with the Merriam School.
- Merriam School Named for Florence A. Merriam who taught for 35 years in Acton. Merriam offers a project-based curriculum. At Merriam, teachers teach the same group of students for two years (i.e. a teacher will teach first grade one year, second grade the next and then wrap back to first). Merriam School is housed in the Parker Damon Building which it shares with the McCarthy-Towne school.
Acton-Boxborough Regional Schools (Junior High & Senior High)
The Acton-Boxborough Regional School
District consists of the Raymond J. Grey Junior High School
for grades 7 and 8, and the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School
for grades 9 through 12. The regional district serves students from the towns of Acton and Boxborough
. In addition, some students are accepted from neighboring towns as 'choice' students if the school committee decides this is in the best interest of the district. Both the junior high and high school were enlarged and renovated in 2000-2005.
Acton has two public libraries
: the Acton Memorial Library and the West Acton Citizens' Library.
The Acton Memorial Library was given to the town of Acton by William Allan Wilde as a memorial to its Civil War veterans in 1890. The building was expanded in 1967, and a second major expansion was completed in 1999.
The Citizens' Library, one of the oldest buildings on Windsor Avenue, was most likely built in the 1840s by Phineas Wetherbee, who by 1856 resided there and lived at that address until his death in 1894.
There are also libraries in each of the elementary schools, the Junior High, and the High School.
The Acton Historical Society owns the Jenks Library which contains historical maps, documents, photographs and drawings.
- The Discovery Museums are two separate science museums located on the same site. The Children's Discovery Museum has exhibits suitable for younger children, while the Science Discovery Museum focuses on older children. The location is well guarded by Bessie, the large dinosaur statue and museum mascot, located in the front grounds of the facility.
- Iron Work Farm: The name of the plantation that drove the settlement of South Acton, Iron Work Farm is a non-profit historical corporation that runs two houses: Jones Tavern and Faulkner House. Each house is open to the public on the last Sunday of the month from May to October. The facilities have also been open on Patriots Day, each April.
- Hosmer House: This Revolutionary War-era home is open to the public May 27th and June 24th from 2 to 4.
Acton has two local theater
groups: Theater III and Open Door Theater. Theater III was founded in 1956. It produces several plays and/or musicals a year in the historically interesting old church building on Central Street. Open Door Theater is a community theater
group which was founded to provide an inclusive theater experience. Open Door produces one large musical each year which features a large number of actors ranging in age from 9 to adult including people with special needs.
Acton is served by one local [newspaper]. The Beacon
, serving Acton and Boxborough, is part of the Community Newspaper Company chain which is owned by GateHouse Media
The Acton Boxborough Regional High School produces radio station WHAB
and produces material for public access cable TV on Channel 8.
The Acton senior population has a weekly television show called Elderberries which also runs on the public access cable TV.
Points of interest
- Jones Tavern. The main part of the tavern, originally home to the Jones family of South Acton, was built in 1732 as a house for Samuel Jones, Jr. By 1750 it had become a tavern and general store. It is speculated to be the first store in Acton and holds the distinction of being the town’s longest established business, merging into James Tuttle’s store in 1845 and operating under various names until 1950.
- The Faulkner House and Mills. The house was built for Ephraim Jones (1679-1710), founder in 1702 of an early textile business and other mills that formed the nucleus of the present town of Acton. The largest and most central house of this settlement, it served as the local garrison house for protection from Indian raids made along the Massachusetts frontier during Queen Anne's War of 1702-1713. The Faulkner homestead served as a garrison for South Acton Militia during the Revolutionary War.
- Town Center: The civic center of town is marked by the Acton Monument which is the final resting place of Capt. Isaac Davis, James Hayward and Abner Hosmer. The stone on which Capt Davis mortally fell is situated between the west side of the monument and Rt 27. The Main entrance to the Town Hall, around the rear of the building, contains Isaac Davis's plow which was used by Daniel Chester French for the statue he cast for North Bridge. The Acton Memorial Library also has some historic memorabilia on permanent display.
- NARA Park. NARA (North Acton Recreation Area) Park opened in 1999. NARA Park includes a pond for swimming, a beach area, playing fields, a concert shell and hiking paths.
- Assabet River Rail Trail.
- Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. The Bruce Freeman Trail is a proposed rail trail through the communities of Lowell, Chelmsford, Westford, Carlisle, Acton, Concord, Sudbury, and Framingham in Massachusetts -- following the route of the old New Haven Railroad Framingham & Lowell line. Phase 1 (7.5 miles in Lowell, Chelmsford, and Westford) has been designed and funded. Construction should begin sometime in 2006. Phase 2 in Westford, Carlisle, Acton, Concord, and Sudbury (13 miles) and Phase 3 in Sudbury and Framingham (4.5 miles) are proposed extensions.
Acton is five miles (8 km) from I-495
and ten miles (16 km) from I-95
. Routes 2
, and 119 run through town.
The MBTA Commuter Rail Fitchburg Line train stops at the South Acton station. South Acton is a major station on the line at which many trains terminate. Besides the urban stops at Cambridge (Porter Square) and Boston (North Station Terminal), it is the only station on the line at which all trains stop. The MBTA Fitchburg Line provides service to Fitchburg, Leominster, Shirley, Ayer, Littleton, Concord, Lincoln, Weston, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge, and Boston.
Yankee Lines provides a commuter bus service to Copley Square in Boston from the intersection of Route 2A and 119 in Acton.
- Acton is the setting of the poem "The Vanishing Red," by New England poet Robert Frost (Mountain Interval, 1920).
- Tom Barrasso (NHL Professional Hockey Player) graduated from Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in 1983.
- Bob Brooke (NHL Professional Hockey Player)
- James Brown, born in Acton, co-founder of Little, Brown and Company publisher
- Steve Carell (born 1962) grew up in South Acton. He is a comedic actor who was a correspondent for "The Daily Show" until 2004. He also stars in the film "40 Year Old Virgin", "Dan in Real Life", and the American version of the television comedy, "The Office."
- Howard Louis Carr, popular talk-radio personality, lived in Acton before he moved to Wellesley.
- Robert Creeley (b.1926, d.2005) grew up in West Acton. The Acton Memorial Library gives out an annual Robert Creeley Poetry Award to a promising local poet in his honor. The Acton Memorial Library is planning to create a "Robert Creeley room" where visitors will be able to read and listen to his poetry and see photos and other memorabilia.
- Ted Crowley (NHL Professional Hockey Player) attended Acton-Boxborough Regional High School from 1986 until 1987.
- Isaac Davis (b.1745, d.1775) Captain of the Acton Minutemen at the Old North Bridge in Concord at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. He was the first officer to die in the American Revolution
- Henry Durant, (1803-1875), born in Acton, Congregational Church clergyman, first president of College of California, two-term mayor of Oakland, California
- Christian Finnegan, comedian, grew up in the Forest Glen neighborhood of West Acton in the 1980s.
- Mary Josephine Hannon (October 31, 1865 - August 8, 1964), Maternal grandmother of assassinated president John F. Kennedy
- Ian Moran (NHL Professional Hockey Player)
- Jeff Norton (born 1965) (NHL Professional Hockey Player)
- John Ruggles Cotting (1783-1867), native of Acton, clergyman, author, and noted geologist
- Bob Sweeney (NHL Professional Hockey Player)
- Caroll Spinney, (b.1933) the puppeteer who created the Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, grew up in Acton.
- Madeline Amy Sweeney, (b.1966, d.2001) was a flight attendant on board American Airlines flight 11 when it was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Ms. Sweeney was the first person to report the hijacking. On Feb 11, 2002, she was commemorated in a series of new annual bravery awards initiated by the Massachusetts government. The annual Madeline Amy Sweeney Award will be awarded every September 11 to at least one Massachusetts resident who displayed extraordinary courage in defending or saving the lives of others.
- Jesse Lauriston Livermore (1877-1940), a famous early 20th century stock trader, grew up in South Acton.