Originally settled in the 1730s and known as Pequoiag, the town of Athol is located amongst the rolling hills of north central Massachusetts, 70 miles west of Boston. Early settlers lived by farming and hunting and the growing community was officially incorporated as the town of Athol in 1762.
By the end of the 18th Century, a handful of grist, saw and fulling mills dotted the banks of the Millers and Tully Rivers and in the mid-1800s the town witnessed a boom in industrial growth typical for “mill towns” of the time.
Factories powered primarily by the Millers River, augmented by access to markets facilitated by the construction of the Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad in the 1840s, spurred such rapid growth in commerce that additional railroad lines to Springfield and Fitchburg soon followed.
In 1868, the Athol Machine Company was established to produce a chopping machine invented by Laroy S. Starrett. Then in 1881 Mr. Starrett founded the L.S. Starrett Company, now an international company still producing high-quality precision tools. The Starrett mills dominate the downtown landscape along the Millers River and the company remains the largest local employer.
The Union Twist Drill Co. also operated a large mill downtown and employed up to 800 at its peak until ceasing operations in the 1980s. These two companies helped earn and maintain Athol’s legacy as the “Tool Town.”
The town and North Quabbin region are blessed with a natural beauty and many recreational opportunities. From camping, to swimming, to fishing, to hiking trails with stunning vistas the area is rife with opportunities to interact with nature. In addition, through the Library and Historical Society there are many cultural and entertainment activities.
Today, Athol is a safe and affordable community that nearly 12,000 people call their home.
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Check out the Athol History Trail brochure!
Just the Facts
History: Settled in 1735 as Pequoiag. Incorporated as town of Athol on March 6, 1762.
Location: North central Mass.; 71 miles west of Boston and 38 miles north of Worcester.
Area: Total 33.07 square miles (32.34 square miles land; 0.73 square miles water).
Population (2010): 11,584
Registered Voters: 6,327
Government: Open Town Meeting; Board of Selectmen; Town Manager.
Annual Election: First Monday in April.
Annual Town Meeting: Second Monday in June.
Fall Town Meeting: Third Monday in October.