Dalton, Massachusetts 

Heaven in the heart of the Berkshires

Dalton, a historic settlement

Tristram Dalton
Tristram Dalton
Dalton was incorporated on March 20, 1784. The town was named for Tristram Dalton, the speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Mr. Dalton, a native of Newburyport, Massachusetts, was a well-respected politician in the primary years of the new nation. The Commission has no record of Mr. Dalton ever visiting Dalton.

[Note from Webmaster: see Wikipedia article for more biographical info on Mr. Dalton]

Dalton had a rough landscape with some good farmland in its interior and a swift moving river. The Town of Dalton soon became a rural industrial community with many neighborhoods housing mill owners and their employees. Harnessing the power from the East branch of the Housatonic River, Dalton enjoyed the prosperity of many of the local mills. By 1829, the town was comprised of three paper mills, a gristmill, and five sawmills, all within a mile of the town meeting house. Farmland was limited in comparison to the towns lower on the Housatonic River.

Dalton’s largest industry became papermaking, although other industries were present. A shoe factory, box factory and woolen mills were among some of the other industries.In 1801 Zenas Crane started his papermaking business along the banks of the Housatonic River. In 1844 Crane’s developed its distinctive bank note paper, which was quickly accepted by banks from Great Barrington to Boston. Crane & Co. is still the town’s largest employer and is still making the paper the country uses for its money.

By 1826, the Boston & Albany Railroad was running six or seven trains a day between Dalton and Pittsfield. In 1888, the second depot was built with local granite. The railroad depot was operational until 1952. Dalton was also served by a trolley system, which ran exclusively from Pittsfield to Dalton. The Pittsfield Street Railway began operating a trolley service in Dalton around 1886.

There still exist many historic structures in and around the business block areas. The Historic Commission has identified several significant structures built before 1820 as well as other notable homes and buildings. The Historic Commission is presently working with the Dalton Select board to establish a Historic Preservation Bylaw to protect the town’s historic buildings and sites.

Courtesy Louisa Horth, Dalton Historic Commission

Last updated 5/9/2012
Official site of the Town of Dalton, Massachusetts