Conway comprises 37.8 square miles and lies in the foothills of the Berkshires just west of the Connecticut River Valley, a region rich in agriculture. It is the 4th largest in area of all towns in Franklin County and is the 11th most populous (1990 census). Conway shares boundaries with seven other towns: Buckland and Shelburne Falls to the north, Deerfield to the east and north, Whately and Williamsburg to the south, and Ashfield and Goshen to the west.
Conway State Forest, a 1,946-acre forest in southern Conway, is accessible from West Whately Road, which leaves Route 116 just east of the village. There are hiking and horseback trails, and more than four miles of streams for trout fishing. It also offers hunting and winter activities. (413) 268-7098
South River State Forest, encompasses 500 acres in Conway and is accessible via Shelburne Falls and Bardwells Ferry roads, north of Route 116. There are picnic tables along the South River to its confluence with the Deerfield River, plus several tent sites. All facilities are primitive in nature. Fishing is available in the South, Bear and Deerfield rivers. Hunting is also allowed. (413) 339-5504
Conway Historical Society, located on Main Street, features a notable collection of items from Conway's cutlery and tool factories, woolen mills and shoe factories. Open Sundays, 2 to 4 p.m., July through Labor Day weekend.
Burkeville Covered Bridge, on Route 116, about a mile north of the center of town, Originally built in 1871, the 107-foot bridge that spans the South River was restored in 2005.
Festival of the Hills, an annual celebration of foliage season traditionally held in town at the end of September. It includes crafts, games, food, music, special events and a 10-kilometer foot race. (413) 369-4400.
Conway was originally part of the Southwest District of Deerfield. Settlement of the area commenced when Cyrus Rice, from Barre, built a house there. The second settler was Josiah Boyden of Grafton.
By 1767, when Conway was incorporated, there were already about 200 people living in the district. In that year, the first grist mill was built by Caleb Sharp, who was of Indian and African descent.
The town is named for General Henry Conway, a leader in the House of Commons during repeal of the Stamp act. Marshall Field, a Chicago merchant, was born in Conway and gave Marshall field Memorial Library in honor of his parents.
In 1837, Conway had a population of 1,445. It had a cotton mill and a woolen mill as well as tanneries and sawmills. The cotton mill employed "8 males and 20 females," according to records, and manufactured 151,140 yards of cloth. The woolen mill employed 18 people and produced 3,500 yards of cloth.
The large industries along the South River, including several woolen mills, were destroyed in 1869 when the reservoir dam gave way.
Sheep raising was an important occupation and it was estimated that in 1837 there were 4,380 Merino and other kinds of sheep in the township.