Located in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, our town is an outdoor-lover’s dream. Situated at the base of the Berkshire Mountains, the terrain here is hilly, with acres of public forests, and a variety of lakes and ponds. Otis covers approximately 38 square miles, of which 2.5 square miles is water. These water sources include the Farmington River, the Reservoir, and Big Pond.
The Otis Reservoir is over 1,000 acres large, and is a popular fishing location with approximately half a dozen varieties of fish to be found in its depths. Boating, swimming, and other water sports are also enjoyed here. Other recreational opportunities in town include camping, hiking, and skiing at surrounding state forests, and the Otis Ridge Ski Area.
We have a population of approximately 1,600 people. Most people live near the reservoir and the center of town, away from the marshy areas. The town is located at the intersection between two Massachusetts State roads, but has no major highways. Though the Massachusetts Turnpike passes through town, the nearest entrance to it is in Lee.
Our town may have been settled later than other hill towns in the region, but this fact makes our history no less proud. Situated along the Old Knox Trail, it was a prime location for settlers looking for new lands to settle in the western part of the state. The area was originally part of a land grant from 1737. The village of Loudon was formed in 1773, and Bethlehem in 1789, today, our town encompasses parts of both of these towns. In 1809, Louden annexed Bethlehem, leading to a meeting with the mayor of Boston. The town was formed, and named after the mayor, Harrison Gray Otis, and incorporated in 1810.
The town was primarily agricultural, but many mills were also established. By 1849, there were 18 sawmills, 7 blacksmiths, 2 iron foundaries, tanneries, and other businesses along the river. Much of the architecture can still be seen today throughout the town.
Today, we are a rural residential town, with some income from tourism. Bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and other businesses welcome guests from across Massachusetts and New England to this rural community.
Running from Fort Ticonderoga in New York to just outside Boston, MA is a network of roads known as the Knox Trail. Following the battles in 1775, George Washington ordered Henry Knox to transport 59 cannons from the fort to the encampment outside Boston to give the colonists a significant tactical advantage going into the spring of 1776.
No easy journey, Henry Knox accomplished this feat in 56 days, leading to the success of Washington’s plans. Today the trail he took is commemorated with markers along the route, dotted throughout New York and Massachusetts. A known trail, it became a route for settlers to follow west looking for new homes.
All together, we are a rural community with a proud history. We are perhaps best known for our recreational opportunities, offering a wide range of water sports, winter sports, camping, fishing, and more to residents of New England and beyond.