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The Town of Tolland is a rural hill town in the eastern Berkshire highlands, located on the Farmington River. Only limited agriculture is possible because of the rugged, wooded terrain and marshlands and it is conjectured that until the first documented permanent settlement in 1750, the town was mainly used for small, seasonal hunting or fishing camps. Tolland suffered no damage or loss of life during the French and Indian wars of the late 18th century and was the last portion of the original Bedford Plantation to be settled. However, the Bedford proprietors sold large tracts of land at low prices to stimulate settlement of the area, so each colonist had generous amounts of land. They used the land for farming, livestock and dairy production, finding that the hillsides produced excellent pasturage for cattle. Through the 18th and 19th century, the town's development continued at a very slow pace, since the terrain, limited agricultural acreage and lack of extensive freshwater sources did not attract settlers who found other lands still available. Some industrial development took place in Tolland, including establishment of a clock making factory in the 1840's and of a tannery on the Farmington River about 1850. The clock factory, which employed 20 men, was the largest one in the state at the time and produced 72% of the value of all clocks manufactured in the Commonwealth in 1845. In 1872, construction began on the Lee and New Haven Railroad which was expected to bring prosperity and further development to Tolland. But when the financial panic of 1873 struck, the state withdrew its support and left Tolland and its neighboring communities with a massive debt. Town taxes rose to an exorbitant level to repay the debt and there were widespread farm failures. In present day Tolland, the economy is based on cattle raising and dairying with some additional maple syrup production and apple harvests. The population, which had fallen to a low of 101 in 1915, has crept upward to 289. (Seal supplied by community. Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission HYPERLINK "/dhcd/dhcd.htm"
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