Blandford, Massachusetts is a town in Hampden County. It covers 53.6 square miles of land and has a population of approximately 1,200 people. Located near the edge of the Berkshire Hills, the town experiences significant elevation changes. Areas near the streams are as low as 400 feet, while some hilltops reach as high as 1,700 feet. Western portions of the town have high elevations and enjoy spectacular views of the Connecticut River and can see as far as Mount Monadnock in southern New Hampshire. Much of the town is characterized by rolling hills.
While once a farming community, many of the fields have been abandoned, with forests reclaiming the land. Many varieties of trees grow here including beech, birch, maple, pine, oak, and hemlock. This provides an abundant natural habitat for many species of wildlife. After nearly 200 years of decline, these species are enjoying resurgence in the area.
There is a significant amount of water in the town’s streams and ponds, with 1.8 square miles of the town’s area being covered in water. Springfield, MA even relies on the town's Cobble Mountain Reservoir as a main water supply.
Like other hill towns in western Mass, our land was settled significantly later than other communities, due to the quality of the farmland. Settlement began in 1735, and the town was primarily settled by Scot-Irish settlers. Named originally for the Scottish city, Glasgow, a deal was made so that Scotland would provide a church bell if the town was incorporated under this name. In 1741, this deal did not come to fruition as the town was incorporated under their current name, chosen by the state governor in honor of the ship that transported him to America.
While primarily a farming community, the land here did not support high-value crops. As such, the population began to falter, and farms were abandoned for more fertile lands in New York. Despite this, dairy farming and the production of cheese and butter remained important industries here throughout the 19th century. We even led the county in cheese production in 1840 and 1875. Today, dairy farms and orchards still dot the landscape and offer delicious produce to its citizens.
As a popular summer resort area for the families of Springfield, Westfield, and other Massachusetts communities, we eventually grew our tourism to include the winter months. Today we are home to a popular ski mountain, the Blandford Ski Area, which boasts that it is the longest continually operating ski club in the nation.
The Ski Area got its start in 1933, when the Springfield Ski Club was formed. Looking for an area to set up a ski slope, they were granted permission to use Pere Persson’s farm in 1936 and set up a 1,000 foot tow rope and warming shed in a nearby schoolhouse. They purchased the land in 1941, built additional slopes, and enjoyed stunning popularity in the 1950s and 1960s with over 5,000 members of the ski club.
As other ski areas in Massachusetts began to decline and close, our Ski Area held strong. Today it offers three chairlifts, night skiing, and snowmaking, and is the only remaining alpine ski area in Hampden County.
Blandford, Massachusetts is a town that has prevailed despite the odds. Lacking the fertile farmlands of other towns, settlers established a strong tradition of dairy farming and the town has remained a popular recreational destination for surrounding towns.