Sunderland, Massachusetts

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Sunderland is a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts, part of the Pioneer Valley. The population was 3,777 as of the 2000 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Sunderland was first settled in 1713 and was officially incorporated in 1714. It was first known as Swampfield, a name which is now honored by Swampfield Road, but the name was changed to attract more residents. It was renamed in honor of Charles Spencer, the Earl of Sunderland.[1] Historically, the land was largely used for farming. Before the incorporation of Leverett in 1774, that town was a part of Sunderland's territory.

Contents

Geography and Transportation

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 14.8 square miles (38.3 km²), of which 14.4 square miles (37.3 km²) are land and 0.4 square mile (1.1 km²) (2.77%) is water. Sunderland is located in the Pioneer Valley on the east bank of the Connecticut River, which drains the town. Mount Toby, a prominent conglomerate mountain with a firetower lookout, stands at the east border of the town and is traversed by the 47-mile Robert Frost Trail. The mountain, surrounded by Mount Toby State Forest, is known for its waterfalls, scenic vista, and biologically diverse ecosystem. Sunderland is home to the Buttonball Tree, an American sycamore famous for its size and age. The tree is located on North Main Street.

Sunderland lies on the southern edge of Franklin County, north of Hampshire County. Sunderland is bordered by Montague to the north, Leverett to the east, Amherst and Hadley to the south, and Whately and Deerfield to the west. (Because of the river, there is no direct access between Sunderland and Whately.) From its town center just east of the Connecticut River, Sunderland is 10 miles (16 km) south of the county seat of Greenfield, 28 miles (45 km) north of Springfield, and 90 miles (140 km) west of Boston. Most of the town's population lies in the western part of town, along the river, though there is a small village north of Mount Toby.

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