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

Orange is the easternmost town within Franklin County along its border with Worcester County. It lies on 36 square miles and is bordered by Royalston to the northeast, Athol to the southeast, New Salem to the south, Wendell to the southwest, a small portion of Erving to the west, and Warwick to the northwest. The Town of Orange owns and operates Orange Municipal Airport, a small air service airstrip which also serves as a flight training center and parachuting center. The population is approximately 7,839.

 

Attractions

  • Orange Historical Society, located at 41 North Main Street, is housed in a Victorian home and is furnished in that period. Included are a special children's room, military room and alumni room. Barn exhibits include a fire pumper, steam automobile (circa 1904) made in Orange by the Grout brothers and other industrial items. Open Sunday and Wednesday, 2:00 to 4:00 pm., June through September. Call (978) 544-2861 for further information.

  • Lake Mattawa is a popular swimming, boating and fishing spot on Holtshire Road. The lake is stocked with trout and salmon and has a beach and a boat ramp.

  • Peace Statue is in Orange Memorial Park on South Main Street. It depicts a veteran soldier from World War I explaining to a child the futility of war. The 12-foot statue, sculted by Joseph Pollia of New York, was unveiled in 1934. It is dedicated to the residents of Orange who served in the war. A bronze plaque at the base reads: "It Shall Not Be Again."

  • Starry, Starry Night, by Orange Revitalization Partnership(ORP), is a free regional New Year's Eve celebration. For more information about both, go to
    orangerevitalizationpartnership

  • The River Rat Race is held the second weekend in April.

  • The North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival is held in late September at Forster's Farm located at 60 Chestnut Hill Road.

History

As early as 1735 a long street, eight rods in width, was laid in a north and south direction in the northwester part of Athol, a little east of the top of West Pequoiag hill. On either side of this street, home lots were laid out in regular form. Many of the lots were quickly occupied by settlers. The little community thus formed soon attracted other settlers to adjacent parts of Warwick and Royalston. However, this compact settlement was located so far from the center of the nearest towns as to make it inconvenient for the people to gather with their fellow townspeople for religious service and management of municipal affairs. Then, between 1769 and 1780, the Ruggles Grant and the east end of Erving's Grant filled with settlers. This population increase led the isolated community decide to become a town. As a result, on October 15, 1783, the area including the northwesterly part of Athol, the southeasterly part of Royalston, the southeasterly part of Warwick, the easterly part of a grant to John Erving, the Ruggles Grant and the Hasting farm, were all incorporated as Orange.

The town was named after William, Prince of Orange. Many of the early settlers were lineal descendants of the first settlers at Plymouth and vicinity, and of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They first settled in North Orange, which remains a scenic village.

From 1780 to 1840, Orange was primarily a farming town. Many of the farms were large and well managed. However, various industries eventually sprouted along the banks of the Millers River, including the New Home Sewing Machine Company, which in 1892 produced 1,200,000 sewing machines. By 1879, the town had a population of about 2,000 people, many employed in industry. Orange was also the site of the first automobile factory in the United States, at the current home of Pete's Tire Barn on East Main Street, built in 1900. It produced Grout steam automobiles.

Website

For more information, visit the Orange Home Page.

"My husband is a motorcycle enthusiast and likes riding the Mohawk Trail"
"The county is peppered with old and new all mixed up"
"An air of peace and tranquility"
"Real community authenticity. Franklin County is not pseudo anything."
"More down to earth, no pretense, real people."
     
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