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Franklin County

Franklin County

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Welcome to

Franklin County

Located in the upper Connecticut River valley area of western Massachusetts, Franklin County borders Vermont and New Hampshire to the north. The 724 square miles of Franklin County is the most rural area of the Commonwealth, with an estimated population density of less than 102 people per square mile, compared to approximately 835 per square mile for the state. According to 2005 land use data, 77% of Franklin County was forestland. According to federal 2010 Census, the 26 municipalities of Franklin County ranged in size from Greenfield with a population of 17,456 to Monroe with a population of 121. Approximately 46% of county residents live in communities with a population of less than 5,000. There are several highly respected independent institutions, such as Deerfield Academy, the Northfield Mount Hermon School, and the Stoneleigh-Burnham School. Outdoor recreation opportunities abound in Franklin from whitewater rafting and fly fishing on the Deerfield River to hiking, camping, downhill and cross-country skiing as well as several bike trails. Attractions to the region include the early American house museums of Historic Deerfield, Northfield Mountain Education & Environmental Center, Bridge of Flowers and Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls, Yankee Candle Company in South Deerfield, Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls, Quabbin Reservoir and more.

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Franklin County

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Ashfield
Ashfield

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Living in

Ashfield

Ashfield was incorporated in 1765 with four Proprietors serving as Selectmen and is still today a Proprietor Town. By 1840, Ashfield was the leading wool producing town in Franklin County and by 1855 it was the leading producer of butter and had 14 sawmills or woodworking shops.

Today Ashfield continues to have an agricultural industry.   Many local farmers produce fiber from sheep, grow fresh vegetables, produce meat and dairy products, honey and maple syrup and grow Christmas trees. The Ashfield Farmer's Market is located on the Town Common from May to October.

The Town of Ashfield has 2 golf courses, Ashfield Lake, Bear Swamp Reservation, Ashfield Trails, Chapel Falls, and abuts the DAR State Forest. Other activities around Ashfield include cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, and hiking.

Ashfield is part of the hill-towns of western Franklin County. It is conveniently located 30 minutes from Northampton and Greenfield and only 15 minutes from Shelburne Falls.

Visit Ashfield's Town Website.

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Bernardston
Bernardston

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Bernardston

Bernardston is a small rural town in western Massachusetts, located north of Greenfield and abuts the Vermont state line. The town is 23.4 square miles in area, with a population of approximately 2100.  It is conveniently located with major roads that go through the town and include Route 5, Route 10 and I-91.

Bernardston consist of rivers and streams that flow from an extensive network of springs in the hills and mountains. It values its history and rural New England landscape, while maintaining its historic open spaces and recreational areas. 

Visit Bernardston's Town Website.

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Buckland
Buckland

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Buckland

The Town of Buckland, Massachusetts is a small, rural, predominately agricultural community with a population of approximately 2,000 people.  Buckland shares a downtown business district with the town of Shelburne and known as the Village of Shelburne Falls.  The towns are separated by the Deerfield River and connected by the Iron Bridge and world famous Bridge of Flowers.

The Route 112 corridor bisects the town and is a scenic highway consisting of a number of small farms and open space.  Buckland’s first settlers arrived in 1742 and the Town of Buckland was incorporated April 14, 1779.  The town if conveniently located off of Route 2 and only 15 minutes west of I-91 in Greenfield. 

Visit Buckland's Town Website.

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Charlemont
Charlemont

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Charlemont

Charlemont was first settled by Moses Rice (1694-1755). The town was along the distant frontier at the time, and was the subject of several raids by Native Americans. The town was incorporated as Charlemont in 1765 and was mostly rural, with farming being the main industry until the advent of the railroad, which traveled through town towards the Hoosac Tunnel. Today the town industry is tourism and is known as the recreational capital of New England with tourist areas along the Mohawk Trail.

Charlemont is located in the western part of Franklin County, along the Mohawk Trail (MA Route 2), 18 miles west of Greenfield.

Visit Charlemont's Town Website.

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Colrain
Colrain

Living in

Colrain

 

The Town of Colrain is located north of Shelburne Falls and abuts the Vermont state line.  The main Route 112 goes through the center of town and is connected to Route 2 (Mohawk Trail) making it conveniently located from I-91 in Greenfield.   The town is home to two state forests -- Catamount State Forest and H.O. Cook State Forest.

Town of Colrain once had factories who produced cotton and iron castings. Those industries, combined with sheep raising, were the causes of the sudden increase in town population in the early 1800s.  

Colrain is now home to many artisans and farmers and attracts those looking for close proximity to outdoor recreation.  

Visit Colrain's Town Website.

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Conway
Conway

Living in

Conway

The Town of Conway (37.8 square miles) lies in the foothills of the Berkshires just west of the Connecticut River Valley, a region rich in agriculture, arts & culture. Conway is the 4th largest in area of all towns in Franklin County.   It is conveniently located 15 minutes west of I-91 in Greenfield and not far from Northampton. 

The town was once fueled the startup of sawmills. Gristmills and sawmills, built along the streams to harness waterpower, were the first mills of the settlers. Pumpkin Hollow, located at the geographical heart of Conway, became the center of town with a church, school, store, inn, harness shop, and wagon shop.  By the mid-1800s, the citizens of Conway were working hard toward rapid development of the manufacturing industry. Most factories were located along the South River, the main source of waterpower in town. Everything from textiles, hats, furniture, and cutlery to washing “machines” were made here. Gradually, Pumpkin Hollow was replaced as the “center” of town as banks and public buildings sprang up near the river. In the midst of the industrial boom of the nineteenth century, many farms were abandoned leaving pastures and fields to be reclaimed once again by forest. Early in the 20th century, the manufacturing industry went into decline, with many factories going out of business largely because of transportation costs to and from Conway. Stone foundations and cellar holes are the visible remains of many farms and factories of long ago. 

The town is a popular place to live for those who want convenience to the highway but still prefer to live in a beautiful rural setting.    

Visit Conway's Town Website.

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Deerfield
Deerfield

Living in

Deerfield

 

The town of Deerfield was once the northwestern most outpost of New England settlement. It was the site of several Native American attacks, including the Deerfield Massacre, also known was Raid on Deerfield in 1704. Deerfield includes two villages: South Deerfield and Old Deerfield. The history of the town is well preserved through Historic Deerfield, the original village and museum, and through the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, a membership-based historical and cultural organization. Deerfield contains the section of the Deerfield River where it bends north before flowing into the Connecticut River, a natural phenomenom. Therefore Deerfield has rich soil, great for farming. Deerfield is located along Interstate-91, 30 miles north of Springfield, and bordering Greenfield to the south. U.S. Route 5 and MA Route 10 both run through town, parallel to Interstate-91.

Visit Deerfield's Town Website.

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Erving
Erving

Living in

Erving

 

The town of Erving is comprised of three villages: Erving Center, Farley, and Ervingside. It is situated along the Millers River and Route 2 (Mohawk Trail) goes through the middle of town.  Erving is known for its low taxes and its convenient location makes it ideal for those who need to travel to the eastern part of the state. 

The French King Bridge connects Erving to the town of Gill and named “The Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” by the American Institute of Steel Construction. The bridge is a popular tourist spot because besides its own beauty, it offers scenic views of the river and the foliage in autumn.

Erving’s large supply of timber and waterpower led to the production of many wood and wood-based products. Today, the Erving Paper Mill still exists, and employs over 100 people.

Visit Erving's Town Website.

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Gill
Gill

Living in

Gill

 

The town of Gill is located east of Greenfield and Turners Falls and approximately with approximately 1,500 residents. 

The town is named in honor of Moses Gill, a member of Massachusetts' Executive Council who became lieutenant govenor in 1794 and acting governor in 1799 when Governor Increase Sumner died. Gill died in 1800, leaving the state without a governor and acting governor for the first and only time in its history. Gill for many years benefited from river traffic. The "Grass Hill" section eventually became home to noted evangelist Dwight L. Moody's Mount Hermon School in 1881, which merged with Northfield School for girls to become Northfield Mount Hermon School more than 20 years ago.

The Town of Gill has beautiful rolling hills and open farmland.   It is a wonderful town with easy access to Route 2 and Route 10.

Visit Gill's Town Website.

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Greenfield
Greenfield

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Greenfield

The City of Greenfield is the centrally located in Franklin County and was formed in 1811.  Conveniently located at the intersection of I-91 and Route 2 (Mohawk Trail), only 35 minutes north of Springfield and 1 hour from Bradley International Airport.  It is the center of life and the commercial and cultural hub of the northern Pioneer Valley.  Greenfield is home to Greenfield Community College and Baystate Franklin Medical Center.   It has a variety of restaurants, shops, markets, professional businesses, events, and yet close to outdoor activities.   The Amtrak train station stops here creating a convenient way to travel to NYC and Vermont.   

Visit Greenfield's Town Website.

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Hawley
Hawley

Living in

Hawley

 

Hawley is a beautiful, remote town in the western part of Franklin County. The town has very little industry and most residents commute, work from home, or work for municipalities. The town is mostly run by volunteers.

Hawley is composed of 40% state forest- the Kenneth Dubuque Memorial State Forest and parts of the Mohawk Trail and Savoy State Forests. Between the three state forests, there is plenty of opportunity to get outside and hike, swim, fish, and enjoy the natural scenery.

Hawley is located in the southwest corner of Franklin County and is bordered by Charlemont to the north, Buckland to the east, and Plainfield to the south.

Visit Hawley's town website.

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Heath
Heath

Living in

Heath

 

Heath is located in the northern westerly part of Franklin County.  It abuts the state of Vermont and it is near Route 2 and Shelburne Falls. 

Incorporated in 1785. The Heath Historical Society, located in the center of town, has displays representing Heath’s past, including palm-leaf hats. From the 1830s to the Civil War, women and children in Heath braided these palm-leaf hats and sold them for extra income in the winter months. The town had some farming and other small industry in the nineteenth century, but much of it is gone now, leaving the town as a rural area.

The town comprises a total area of 24.9 square miles with a population of 706. It is a “Right To Farm Community” with rolling hills, stone walls, forests and streams. 

Visit Heath's Town Website.

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Leverett
Leverett

Living in

Leverett

 

 

Leverett is neighbor to the Five College area of Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, Mt. Holyoke and the University of Massachusetts.  Its diverse population of 2,000 is a rich mixture of teachers, students, farmers, lumbermen, gardeners, artists, professionals in the areas of medicine, law, and telecommunications.

Four villages comprise the town: Leverett Center, East Leverett, North Leverett and Moores Corner. The major road through town is Route 63, which connects Leverett to Amherst to the south and Montague to the north.

Visit Leverett's town website.

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Leyden
Leyden

Living in

Leyden

 

Leyden contains about 700 year round residents and famous sons that include John Riddell who was the inventor of the binocular microscope, and Henry Kirke Brown who was the sculptor of George Washington on horseback at Union Square in New York City.

Leyden had several small industries in the eighteenth century, including grist mills, wood product mills, and dairying, but today the largest industry is maple sugar production. The town also has a reservoir which supplies the town of Greenfield.

Leyden is a beautiful part of Franklin County with rolling hills, open farmland and picturesque views. 

Visit Leyden's town website.

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Monroe
Monroe

Living in

Monroe

 

Monroe is the smallest town in Franklin County and considered to be in the middle of nowhere.  It lies in the farthest northwestern corner of the county. It is sometimes called Monroe Bridge because once the Hoosac Tunnel and Wilmington Railroad were completed, crewmen were told to leave the town’s mailbags at the Monroe bridge. In 1888, the post office was established and was known as the Monroe Bridge Post Office.

Monroe also was home to a paper mill that employed a lot of the locals.  There was also a prison camp and nearly forty years after its abandonment, the Monroe camp is long since vanished virtually without a trace.  There is evidence saved of a few bits of concrete and metal refuse in a clearing in the woods.

The town's eastern border with Rowe is along the Deerfield River. It is bordered by Vermont to the north and the town of Florida to the south and west.

 

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Montague
Montague

Living in

Montague

 

Montague is a diverse area that is rich in history and culture that includes more than 10,000 years of early Native American habitation, as well as the Colonial and Industrial history that is embodied in the National Historic Register Districts of Montague Center and Turners Falls – a planned industrial community.

The Town’s landscape, 31.5 square miles, is a rare combination of rolling hills, fertile farmlands, historic mills and residential villages. It is a thriving town of 8,580 people that offers a unique mixture of business and industrial opportunities, easily accessible to Route 2 and Interstate 91 and only 20 minutes north of Amherst. Montague is also perfectly situated near canoeing, hiking and biking opportunities, including the Turners Falls Bikeway.

The Town prides itself on a lively arts community and convenient access to the cultural resources of the “Five College Area”. The Town's public arts program known as, RiverCulture, promotes arts/culture and the creative economy of Montague.   The five villages that are part of Montague are Turners Falls, Millers Falls, Lake Pleasant,  Montague Center and Montague City.

Visit Montague's town website.

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New Salem
New Salem

Living in

New Salem

 

The town of New Salem was affected greatly by the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir, one of the largest man-made water supplies in the country, which supplies the drinking water for nearly half of Massachusetts. Much of the town is off-limits wilderness controlled by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The people of New Salem are next door to 39 square miles of reservoir on 81,000 acres of reservation land for fishing, hiking, birdwatching, hunting, biking, and other outdoor activities.

New Salem lies at the southeastern corner of Franklin County and is south of Route 2 and the major through road is Route 202.

New Salem has a charming town common and is a beautiful part of Franklin County.

Visit New Salem's town website.

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Northfield
Northfield

Living in

Northfield

 

 

The Town of Northfield is located north of Franklin County with easy access to Greenfield, Brattleboro, VT and Keene, NH. It is a town of farmland, forested hills, streams, wetlands and wildlife and the only town in Massachusetts situated on both sides of the Connecticut River.

The Town of Northfield was an early attraction for colonial settlers due to its rich and fertile plains along the Connecticut River, and Europeans had begun farming there in 1673. Northfield's early fame was based on land, but its later international reputation was built on missionaries. The town was known for producing large numbers of Protestant missionaries. In 1879, Northfield Seminary was established. The girls' school later grew into the Northfield School for Girls, now Northfield Mount Hermon School.

First Light/GDF Suez sited their pumped-storage hydroelectric facility in Northfield and also use the location for a wildlife exhibit and visitor center. The utility company provides boat tours on the Connecticut River and has year-round recreational and education programs. Northfield is one of the cultural centers of Franklin County.

The Town of Northfield has a picturesque Main Street that is surrounded by beautiful landscape.

Visit Northfield's town website.

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Orange
Orange

Living in

Orange

 

Orange is the easternmost town in Franklin County. It lies along State Route 2, which runs east towards Worcester County and west towards Berkshire County. Orange has its own municipal airport that is open to the public.

The Millers River runs through the town and was dammed in 1790, bringing in lots of industry. Orange became the site of the New Home Sewing Machine Company in the late 19th century and Grout in 1900, the first automobile factory built in the United States.

Visit Orange's town website.

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Rowe
Rowe

Living in

Rowe

 

Rowe is a small hilltown in northwestern Massachusetts, with a population of 390. The town is one of scenic beauty, with wooded mountains, clear brooks, and the Deerfield River on its border. Rowe is close to ski areas and enjoys great hiking, fishing, hunting, kayaking, rafting and canoeing.

Rowe has its own elementary school and tuitions grades 7-12. The close-knit community enjoys a solid low tax base provided mainly by the Bear Swamp pumped storage hydro-electric plant. Several smaller hydro dams and stations.

The Town is known for its beautiful landscape and well maintained roads.  Property owners enjoy the benefits of the pristine Pelham Lake and Park making this a special community.

Visit Rowe's town website.

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Shelburne
Shelburne

Living in

Shelburne

 

Town of Shelburne is located west of Greenfield.  Its countryside landscape is considered the most beautiful areas in Franklin County and admired by many who visit here. 

Shelburne’s significant historic resources are its village and agricultural land use patterns. The villages of Shelburne Falls and Shelburne Center retain interesting buildings associated with the town’s residents and events. The living history of productive fields, pastures and old farmsteads also contributes to the town’s special character. The architecture in this working landscape represents what the rest of New England once looked like.

 You will only find small locally-owned businesses, some of which have been in the family for generations. Many of these long-time family-owned businesses are agricultural: sugar bushes, pick-your-own orchards, and dairy farms.

The major through road is Route 2 (Mohawk Trail) and the Village of Shelburne Falls, a small business and residential area, and deemed a Cultural District, includes parts of the towns of Buckland and Shelburne.

Visit Shelburne's town website.

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Shutesbury
Shutesbury

Living in

Shutesbury

 

 

 Shutesbury is bordered by the Quabbin Reservoir, and the town's proximity to the huge body of water ensures preservation of some of its rural character because of the restrictions placed on development within the watershed of the Quabbin. 

Today the town of Shutesbury is very rural with lots of natural scenery and a population under 2,000 people.  It is located only 20 minutes from Amherst and is known for its picturesque landscape.

Lake Wyola is a gorgeous swimming hole in Shutesbury. It is also known for boating, paddling, fishing or just some relaxing sunbathing. Many people live year round or have second homes along the lake.  

Visit Shutesbury's town website.

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Sunderland
Sunderland

Living in

Sunderland

 

Sunderland lies on the southern edge of Franklin County, north of Hampshire County. The town has a total area of 14.7 square miles and It has a population of approximately 3600.

Sunderland has long been a thriving agricultural community that benefits from the rich Connecticut River Valley soil. It has beautiful farmland, borders the Connecticut River and is well known for biking.  It is conveniently located near Amherst, Hadley and not far from I-91.   The main routes of 116 & 47 intersect at the center.   

Sunderland is considered one of the most desirable places to live in Franklin County. 

Visit Sunderland's town website.

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Warwick
Warwick

Living in

Warwick

 

Warwick lies in the northeastern corner of Franklin County, along the border of Worcester County, Massachusetts and Cheshire County, New Hampshire. Warwick is a fairly isolated and rural town. The only state highway that runs through is Route 78 and about one third of the land is protected as part of Warwick State Forest.

Visit Warwick's town website.

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Wendell
Wendell

Living in

Wendell

 

Wendell was incorporated in 1781. During that time, residents were very dependent on farming for their livelihoods. They grew grain and flax and raised cattle, sheep, and swine. In the winter, they made shingles, broom handles, and staves. Logging was also a large industry and is still today due to the extensive forest in Wendell.

Wendell is one of the hilltowns of eastern Franklin County. It is located south of Erving and east of Montague and State Route 2 runs along its northern border. The town has two post offices and therefore two zip codes.

Visit Wendell's town website.

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Whately
Whately

Living in

Whately

 

Whately was incorporated in 1771 and was originally part of Hatfield.  It is the site of the first gin distillery in Massachusetts, as well as other mills including grist, cider, woolen, chair and coffin factories. Above all, Whately has been and continues to be an agricultural area with commercial crops including apples, cider, hay, maple products, tobacco, and vegetables.

Whately lies on the southern border of Franklin County, north of Hampshire County. Whately is bisected by Interstate 91 and is 26 miles north of Springfield and 11 miles south of Greenfield.

Visit Whately's town website.

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