Franklin County, Massachusetts

Franklin County, Massachusetts

Franklin County in western Massachusetts lies along the state's northern border with Vermont and New Hampshire and spans both sides of the Connecticut River, covering an area of about 650 square miles. It was carved out of the northern third of Hampshire County in 1811 and named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. The county was primarily agricultural until the creation of manufacturing centers at Turners Falls, Millers Falls, Greenfield, and Shelburne Falls in the 1860s and after. The county's population shrank steadily after peaking in the 1820s, but rebounded after the 1960s, growing from 59,210 in 1970 to over 72,000 in 2006 according to U.S. Census population estimates. Compared to the rest of the state, however, the county is sparsely populated. Franklin County is noted both for its historic New England towns and for its natural beauty, with dramatic views across the broad Connecticut River Valley, the rugged hills of Buckland and Leyden, the forested hollows of New Salem and Conway, and the dramatic falls of its rivers.