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The Town of Rutland is a residential hill town which is the geographic center of the Commonwealth, and also the highest town between the Berkshires and the Atlantic. The town common is 1,200 feet above sea level. Rutland's original lands of about 12 square miles were purchased from natives in Natick's Indian Praying Town in 1686. Frontier hostilities delayed settlement and the land wasn't finally cut up until 1714 when 62 lots of 30 acres each were finally distributed. Settlers in Rutland came from older eastern towns, like Boston, Lexington, Concord and Sudbury. First settled in 1719, the town suffered repeated Indian attacks with the last death from Indian warfare recorded in 1724. There were about 1,000 people in town in 1765 when a disastrous epidemic of dysentery killed 60 children of the town. The early economy included agriculture and grazing. The first gristmill was built on Mill Brook in 1719 and the town was the one of the earliest in the county to establish a subscription library, before 1796. Three small villages grew up around the water powered mills of the town by 1830 and there was small-scale production of chairs, carriages, and woodenware. A tannery was opened in the 1840's to supply local boot and shoe makers and palm leaf hats were produced in quantity. The town's fresh air and still rural environment drew increasing numbers of visitors and Rutland became a minor recreational and health resort in the 1880's. In 1883 Muschapogue House hotel was built. This development was followed by the building in 1898 of the Massachusetts Hospital for Consumptive and Tubercular Patients, a state prison camp and hospital as well as the opening of a handful of small private TB sanitoria. The town began catering to summer visitors with market garden produce and Finnish immigrants came to town from Worcester to farm. The state facilities and seasonal visitors provided a ready market for town produce. In 1923 a veterans' hospital was erected. When the Quabbin Reservoir was created, many of Rutland's industrial buildings were razed, but the jobs created by state facilities took up much of the loss. A three-mile long tunnel underneath Rutland was dug to carry water from Colbrook Springs in Oakham to West Boylston and Wachusetts Reservoir. (Seal supplied by community) HYPERLINK "/dhcd/dhcd.htm"
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