West Boylston, Massachusetts

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West Boylston is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 7,481 at the 2000 census. West Boylston includes the village of Oakdale, located on the opposite side of the Wachusett Reservoir from West Boylston center along Route 140.



West Boylston was originally part of several neighboring towns – Lancaster, Shrewsbury, Boylston, Holden and Sterling. The town was created as part of a dispute between Boylston and West Boylston over a location of a new town meeting house. It was incorporated in 1808.

During the 1800s the town grew with textile and other industries and became a prosperous community. This prosperity was interrupted as the town was selected as the site of the Wachusett Reservoir to provide water for Boston. It was selected due to its location at the junction of three rivers: The Quinapoxet River, the Stillwater and the Nashua River. In 1897, the Nashua River in the town of Clinton was impounded by the Wachusett Dam. 6.5 square miles (17 km2) were flooded in the towns of Boylston, West Boylston, Clinton and Sterling. Over 2,200 acres (8.9 km2) of West Boylston's land was used for the reservoir, the most of any town. This disrupted the center of town and most of the industrial base. Many buildings were moved to the unaffected parts of the town but the majority were demolished and filled by the reservoir. Over 1700 residents, 300 homes, 8 schools, 6 mills, 4 churches and 1 hotel were moved to dry land. The state paid approximately 60 cents on the dollar for use of the land with the promise to pay $12,000 a year to the town for lost tax revenue forever. The reservoir was completed in 1905 and first filled in May 1908. West Boylston's prominent land mark – The Old Stone Church - was left remaining was a reminder of those that lost their homes and jobs to the building of the reservoir. It is one of the most photographed sites in the area.

Today, West Boylston has transformed itself to a bedroom community for Worcester and the surrounding region. Due to the reservoir, the town has able to preserve much of its rural character making it attractive place for recreation and living.

West Boylston's most famous historical resident is Robert Bailey Thomas, the founder of the Old Farmer's Almanac.

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