About our town:
A small, rural, and agricultural New England town of 23.42 square miles, population slightly under 2,100. Bernardston, Massachusetts is situated in north-central Franklin County on the Vermont border. The Town enjoys an Open Town Meeting form of Government with a three member Board of Selectmen. The major arterial roads of Bernardston include the Interstate-91 expressway and Route 5 and Route 10 under the jurisdiction of the state. The climate in this mid-New England area is dominated by long, cold winters and short, mild to hot summers. The hills and ridges of Bernardston are extensions of the Green Mountain range and rise steeply to the east and west of the Fall River. Vegetation in the region consists of two forest types, the transitional hardwood forest found on hills and ridges and the southern New England flood-plain forest. The majority of the town lies within the Connecticut River Basin with a small southwesterly portion lying in the Deerfield River Basin. The Fall River, which feeds the town’s wells, supplying water to the central village, eventually flows into the Connecticut River. Bernardston is rural in nature. It is characterized by some of the best agricultural soils in the country, a rich network of rivers and streams, and complex strings of hills and mountains.
Bernardston was settled by soldiers who fought in a skirmish with Native Americans in 1676. At that time, the settlement was named Falls Fight Town, for which the river was subsequently named as well. A land grant establishing the town was made by the state legislature in 1734. The town was named after Sir Francis Bernard, who served as the first Royal Governor of Massachusetts from 1760 to 1769. Settlers moved west from Northfield following that town’s secure establishment. Four forts were located in Bernardston, with the first established on a rise called Huckle Hill, which also became home to the Unitarian Meeting House. Once the area was deemed safe from attack, the Unitarian Church was moved to lower ground and now constitutes the center of the village. Another fort in North Bernardston became a stage tavern on the primary stage coach route from Deerfield into Canada, now Route 5. The placement of this route paralleled the Native American trail along the Green River, west of the Bernardston hills.
Bernardston maintains its preservation of historic and valued open spaces and recreation areas, to keep with a truly rural New England landscape.