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Charlemont is a town in Franklin Countymarker, Massachusettsmarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 1,358 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusettsmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History

Charlemont was first settled in 1743, having been set off as Boston Township Number 1 in 1735. The town was along the distant frontier at the time, and was the subject of several raids by Native Americans. The town was incorporated as Charlemont in 1765, most likely named for the town in Northern Irelandmarker. The town was mostly rural, with farming being the main industry until the advent of the railroad, which traveled through town towards the Hoosac Tunnelmarker. Today the town industry also includes tourism, with a ski area and other tourist areas along the Mohawk Trail.

In the years preceding the Revolutionary War, as Charlemont's citizens grew increasingly dissatisfied with Britishmarker rule, Rev. Jonathan Leavitt was installed as the minister of Charlemont's Congregational Church. Born in Walpole, New Hampshiremarker and graduate of Yale College, Rev. Leavitt arrived in Charlemont in 1767, but his Loyalist sympathies grated on his congregation.

By 1777 the situation came to a stand-off: Leavitt refused to accept his salary in rapidly-depreciating colonial currency. So the town voted to simply close the church, and it stationed a constable at the door to bar the offending reverend. But Leavitt would not be deterred: He moved his sermons to the schoolhouse, where he held forth until 1785, when he was finally dismissed. He sued for his salary, as well as his loss on the depreciated colonial currency, and was awarded £700.

Leavitt's descendants continued to remain in Charlemont and the surrounding region, and several—including Col. Roger Hooker Leavitt, who represented Charlemont in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and his brother Hart Leavitt -- became notable operators of stations on the Underground Railroad, sheltering many escaped slaves on their journeys northward.

Geography

The Mohawk Trail, with Todd Mountain in the background
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 26.4 square miles (68.3 km²), of which, 26.1 square miles (67.6 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.7 km²) of it (0.99%) is water. Charlemont is located in the western part of the county, with a small portion making up the western county line with Berkshire Countymarker. The town is bordered by Rowemarker to the northwest, Heathmarker to the northeast, Colrainmarker and Shelburnemarker to the east, Bucklandmarker to the southeast, Hawleymarker to the southwest, and Savoymarker and Floridamarker to the west. Charlemont is 18 miles west of Greenfieldmarker, 45 miles north-northwest of Springfieldmarker, and 106 miles west-northwest of Bostonmarker.

Charlemont's eastern border is marked by the junction of the North River and the Deerfield River, the latter flowing westward through town. The majority of town lands lie north of the river, except for a strip along the entire Hawley town border. The town is surrounded by the eastern Berkshiresmarker, with the western part of town being dominated by Todd Mountain and the Mohawk Trail State Forest. Several other lower peaks dot the land north and town of the river, including Bald Mountain and Westfield Mountain north of the center of town, and, just over the Hawley town line, Mount Peak and Mount Institute. There are also several brooks through town, with Mill Brook lying near the town center (the site of a covered bridge).

Much of the length of the Deerfield in town is followed by the Mohawk Trail, also known as Route 2. Near the center of town, the road also junctions with, and shares a short, 0.6-mile concurrency with Route 8A. Along the southern bank of the river, a stretch of the Guilford Rail System leads fright trains from Greenfield towards the Hoosac Tunnelmarker in neighboring Florida, towards New York. The nearest interstate, Interstate 91, is several miles to the east along Route 2. The town lies at the westernmost point of the "Campus West" line of the Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA) bus line, with scheduled stops at the Academy and at Avery's Store. The nearest regional bus and air service is in Greenfield and North Adamsmarker, the nearest Amtrak rail service is in Pittsfieldmarker, and the nearest national air service is at Albany International Airportmarker in New York.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,358 people, 524 households, and 353 families residing in the town. By population, Charlemont ranks eighteenth of the 25 towns in Franklin county, and 314th out of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. The population density was 52.0 people per square mile (20.1/km²), which ranks fifteenth in the county and 310th in the commonwealth. There were 628 housing units at an average density of 24.1/sq mi (9.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.07% White, 0.29% African American, 0.66% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.44% from other races, and 2.72% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.99% of the population.

There were 524 households out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.8% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.6% were non-families. 25.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the town the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 29.1% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $46,548, and the median income for a family was $50,962. Males had a median income of $37,500 versus $26,667 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,577. About 6.5% of families and 10.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.9% of those under age 18 and 4.2% of those age 65 or over.

Government

Goodnow Hall, home of the town offices
Charlemont employs the open town meeting form of government, and is led by a board of selectmen. The town has its own police, fire and public works departments. The town's library, Tyler Memorial Library, is connected to the regional library network. Charlemont lies halfway between hospitals in North Adams (North Adams Regional Hospital) and Greenfield (Franklin Medical Center). Greenfield is also the site of most of the county's public services, courthouses and the county jail.

On the state level, Charlemont is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as part of the First Berkshire district, which includes the northern portion of Berkshire County as well as several towns in northwest Franklin County. In the Massachusetts Senate, the town is part of the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district, which includes all of Berkshire County and the western portions of Hampshire and Franklin Counties. The town is patrolled by the Second (Shelburne Falls) Station of Troop "B" of the Massachusetts State Police.

On the national level, Charlemont is represented in the United States House of Representatives as part of Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, and has been represented by John Olver of Amherstmarker since June 1991. Massachusetts is currently represented in the United States Senate by only one Senator, John Kerry, as a result of the death of Ted Kennedy on August 25, 2009. A special election is scheduled to be held on January 19, 2010 to fill the Class 1 seat.

Education

Charlemont and neighboring Hawley make up the Hawlemont Regional School District, a sub-district of the 9-town Mohawk Trail Regional School District, which serves much of western Franklin County. Town students attend the Hawlemont Regional Elementary School from pre-kindergarten through sixth grades, and all students in the district attend Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Bucklandmarker. There is a private academy in town, the Academy at Charlemontmarker, and other private and religious schools in nearby towns.

The nearest community college, Greenfield Community Collegemarker, is located in Greenfield. The nearest state college is Massachusetts College of Liberal Artsmarker in North Adams, and the nearest state university is the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The nearest private college is Williams College in Williamstown, with several others located southeast in the Northampton area.

Points of interest

  • Alpine Skiing: Charlemont is well known for its alpine ski area, Berkshire East Ski Areamarker. Other ski areas once located in Charlemont include Sawmill Hill, the Mohawk Trail Skiers Project, and Snow White. Berkshire East is open from late fall until early spring and features snowmaking and night skiing.


  • Camping: Country Aire Campground/RV Park is located on Route 2 in Charlemont, on the Mohawk Trail. Country Aire Campground


  • Hiking: There are multiple popular mountain hikes in Charlemont, accessible via official and unofficial trails, such as Mount Institute, Negus Mountain, Pocumtuck Mountain, and Todd Mountain.




References

  1. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Massachusetts Historical Society, Vol. III, E.W. Metcalf & Co., Cambridge, 1833
  2. Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, Lorenzo Sabine, Vol. II, Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1864
  3. Roger Hooker and Keziah Leavitt House, Charlemont, Massachusetts, Network to Freedom, National Park Service
  4. History and Proceedings of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, 1890-1898, Vol. III, Published by the Association, T. Morey & Son, Greenfield, 1901
  5. List of Massachusetts Legislators by City and Town
  6. Station B-2, SP Shelburne Falls
  7. Governor sets date for special Senate election, presses for interim appointment


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