Leyden lies along the eastern edge of the Berkshires, bordered by Guilford, Vermont, to the north, Bernardston to the east, Greenfield to the south, and Colrain to the west. The majority of the town is forested, and the town has a small state forest and a wildlife management area within its borders. It has a total area of 18.0 square miles with a population of approximately 711.
- Leyden State Forest, located on 61 acres between County and Beaver Meadow Roads, offers hunting, hiking and nature observing.
- Green River, is a popular cold-water stream used by swimmers and anglers. The river, featuring deep pools, is well stocked with trout and is surrounded by scenic hills. It serves as the border between the towns of Leyden and Colrain, running along Green River Road.
- Leyden Town Common, is used for picnics and outdoor activities.
- Pearl Rhodes Elementary School, includes a baseball/softball field, tennis courts and playground. The surrounding eight acres offers fishing, hiking and horseback riding.
Leyden is named after the town of Leiden in Holland, which was a sanctuary for Pilgrims. Descendants of the Pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower to Plymouth, most notably those of William Bradford and William Brewster, were among the early builders of Leyden.
The town was originally part of the "Fall Town," which also included Bernardston and eastern Colrain. On March 12, 1784, Commonwealth of Massachusetts President John Hancock and so-called "Father of the American Revolution" Samuel Adams signed a law which allowed Leyden to be set off from Bernardston as a separate district. However, it wasn't until 1809 that the town was deemed to have a population sufficient for incorporation, and it was charted on February 22 of that year.
"Fall Town" consisted of grants given to the men, or their descendants, who fought Indians with Captain William Turner near Turners Falls. Subsequently, most of Leyden's earliest settlers were these people.
Among these settlers who came to the rugged wilderness as early as 1737 were Samuel Cunnabell, who was known for his innovative maple sugaring techniques, Major John Burk, Peter Newcomb, Silas Newcomb, James Couch, John Lee, John Perry and Samuel Hunt.
Among Leyden's famous natives is John L. Riddell, born in 1807, who invented the binocular microscope and was a pioneer in aerial navigation, botany, mineralogy and medicine. Also born in Leyden, in 1814, was artist and sculptor Henry Kirke Brown, whose huge statues of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln stand in Washington, D.C., New York City and West Point.
The town's Leyden Glen section began supplying water to Greenfield in 1870 and continues to serve as that town's water source. Early industry included blacksmith shops, a cheese shop, gun shop, box shop, grist mills, sawmills and wood products mills.
For more information, visit the Leyden Town Website.