A Brief History of Chester
Settled in the 1750s as Township no. 9, Chester is located in the northwest corner of Hampden County, on the eastern edge of the Berkshires. Initially, Chester was first chartered under the name Murrayfield in October 31, 1765. The town was incorporated as Chester on February 21, 1783 and was opened to the Western Railroad (later called the Boston and Albany Railroad) on May 24, 1841.
At its full bloom, Chester was a vibrant railroad town. Its location at the bottom of an imposingly graded mountainside led to a roundhouse with pusher engines being built. At one point in the 19th century, 150 families had at least one member working for the railroad. Supported by the railroad presence, the Chester area also had a thriving mining industry, producing emery, granite (including the endemic “Chester Blue”) and mica.
Chester’s rich history, both railroad and otherwise, is supported by our active preservation and historical societies – The Chester Railway Station, The Chester Foundation, and The Chester Historical Society. The 3rd Saturday of every May is marked by Chester’s annual festival, Chester on Track, with draws both residents and train enthusiasts from around the country to celebrate Chester’s unique place in railroad history and the town itself.
Don’t just make an evening of a trip to CTC; make a day of it. Take a walk in this mountain town. Come see the shops, historical society, railway station, our bridges, and our unique architecture. Dine at one of our area restaurants listed in Plan Your Visit. As a part of the cultural fabric of Chester, we ask you to support our community partners and the life of the beautiful mountain town our theatre calls home.