Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls - photo by Peter MacDonaldBridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls (photo by Peter MacDonald)

Bernardston is a small rural town, located in north central Franklin County, on the border between Massachusetts and Vermont. The town is 23.4 square miles in area, with a population of approximately 2100. The major roads through town are US Route 5, MA Route 10 and Interstate 91. Bernardston's many hills are eastward extensions of both the Green Mountains and the Appalachians. East and west of the town's center where the Falls River runs, the hills rise steeply.



  •  Bernardston Historical Society Museum, located on Church Street. The building once housed Powers Institute, which was founded in 1857, and includes memorabilia from the school. The collection also includes farm and household tools, textiles and a Luman Nelson collection of small animals and birds. Open the first Sunday of the month, April through October, 1 to 4 pm or by appointment. Call (413) 648-5311 or (413) 648-9406.

  • Hoe Shop Mural, situated near the site of the former hoe factory, near the Falls River on Hoe Shop Road in the southern part of town. Painted on wood and protected by a frame and plexiglas cover, it depicts the Hoe Shop factory complex as it appeared in 1853.

  • Falls River, runs from Vermont south to the Connecticut River, traversing the length of Bernardston. The stream is annually stocked with trout and also has popular swimming holes.

  • Crumpin Fox Golf Club, on Parmenter Road, off Route 10, is an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. Open April trhough November. (413) 648-9101

  • Kringle Candle Company, 220 South Street (Rt. 5). A supplier of great candles, they have several shoppes (Chocolate Cottage and Country Barn), and The Farm Table cafe and restaurant. They host various events including a monthly car show (May-November). (413) 648-3077

  • Bernardston Farmers' Market, seasonal variety of locally-produced fruits, vegetables, meats, baked goods, preserves, crafts and more. Held Saturdays from May to October. 10 am to 1 pm.

  • Annual Flea Market & Gas Engine Show, on Route 10. Held Memorial Day weekend. Activities include flea market and gas engine show, food booths, auction, ham and bean supper, and church service.

  • Scarecrows in the Park, an annual contest presented by the Bernardston Kiwanis Club.Everyone is invite to center the contest and create a unique scarecrow to stand in Cushman Park. Event also includes food, live music and more. Saturday and Sunday, October 21-22, 2017.


In 1735, the General Assembly of the Province of Massachusetts Bay granted a tract of land six miles square, north of Greenfield to the officers and soldiers (or their descendants) who had participated in: "Falls Fight" of 1676. This was an important battle with Indians which took place in the vicinity of Turners Falls. The community was originally known as the Falls Fight Township, was later changed to "Fall Town" until the town was incorporated in 1762 as Bernardston.

The name Bernardston was given to the town in honor of Sir Francis Bernard, provincial governor of Massachusetts under George III.

Settlement of the town started in 1738 and the first four houses according to an old history, belonged to Major John Burk, Samuel Connable, Lt. Ebenezer Sheldon, and Deacon Sheldon. These houses served as both residences and forts. It is said they were built of hewn logs and had "port holes" in the outside walls through which the occupants could fire in case of attack.

About 1755, during the last French and Indian War, the settlers suffered severely. During this war, many of the townspeople lived in Burk's fort. Every man who was capable of doing so bore arms, and on some occasions the women did, too, in defense of their homes.

Many Bernardston men served with distinction as officers and soldiers during the French and Indian War and during the Revoluntionary War.

The town has a rich agricultural history. In 1828 it was estimated that the town produced 8,000 bushels of rye and as much corn, and also 5,000 barrels of cider. In 1862, John Sanderson sent to the New York market his famous ox, known as "Constitution", and "Hero," which at the time was said to be the largest beef creature ever dressed there. His dressed weight was 2,473 pounds.

Bernardston inhabitants were also among the first to make maple products to a great extent. The October, 1765 edition of "Dodsley's Register," states that a "method of making sugar...from the sap of a certain tree called the maple, common in the New England colonies, has just been discovered and put in practice at several portions of New England, but especially at Bernardston, about 20 miles from Athol."


For more information, visit the Bernardston Town Website.

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