The Manchester and Lawrence Railroad was conceived in the mid-1880s as a means to connect the town of Manchester, in New Hampshire, with Boston, a growing hub of industry and commerce. The Boston and Maine Railroad had just completed the Methuen Branch from their mainline at Lawrence to Methuen (both in Massachusetts). The M&L wanted to capitalize on this and build their line south from Manchester to the MA state line; it did so, completing the line in 1849. The two lines joined at the NH-MA state line.
Ultimately, the B&M gained control of the line in 1887. Passenger service ended in 1953, but local freight service continued along the line.
The railway was abandoned in stages, as seen in this rough timeline:
NH-MA State Line
Manchester Londonderry Salem | Methuen Lawrence
1849 |-- Manchester & Lawrence Railroad --|---- Boston & Maine ---|
1887 |-------- Leased to B&M -------------|
1993 |--- abandoned ---|
Today, the right-of-way is owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, and a number of walking paths have been built atop it in a number of locations.