Nestled among the rolling foothills of the Berkshires in the northwest corner of Franklin County lies the beautiful, rural, historic town of Hawley, Massachusetts. The town has a total area of 30.9 square miles, and had a population of 337 at the 2010 census. Hawley is bordered by Charlemont to the north, Buckland to the east, Ashfield to the southeast, Plainfield to the south, and Savoy to the west.
Kenneth Dubuque State Forest, consists of 7,822 acres in southwestern Hawley. There are two main access routes: southerly on Route 8A from Route 2 in Charlemont and northerly on Route 8A from 116 in Plainfield. The forest has four shelters with fireplaces and tables, a large enclosed pavilion at Hallockville Pond and extensive parking. A 20-acre pond fishing.
Hawley Bog is one of the few remaining examples of a New England bog in its natural state. A mat of consolisted peat 30 feet thick floats on open water and supports an unusual community of plants including a variety of mosses. It's located on East Hawley Road.
The Sons & Daughters of Hawley holds an annual garden and artisans tour, usually early in the summer, and Hawley Day in August. (413) 339-4231
Once known as Plantation No. Seven, Hawley was sold April 20, 1771 to a group of proprietors headed by Samuel Hitchock of Springfield. The land was originally sold at auction by the Great and General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony in June of 1762 to a group headed by Moses Parsons of Middletown, Conn., but he backed out of his agreemnt to organize settlement of the township.
The southern quarter of the land that became Hawley was called the Hatfield Equivalent and was owned by people who originally lived in Hatfield. Both groups of proprietors recruited settlers to buy lots and build on them.
The first settlers came from coastal Massachusetts, central Massachusetts and Connecticut. Their leaders were from the Springfield area.
The town experienced early controversy because the inhabitants of Hatfield Equivalent wanted to be transferred to the District of Plainfield. The disputed delayed incorporation until 1792. However, the problem was resolved in 1803 when the General Court transferred a 4.8 square-mile strip of land, along with the inhabitants, to Plainfield.
Hawley was incorporated on February 1, 1792. It was named in honor of Joseph Hawley of Northampton, a leader in western Massachusetts during the Revoluntionary War.
Small-scale industry eventually evolved into the areas of forestry and recreation. About 40 percent of the town consists of state forest. Hawley also has the highest elevation at town hall than any other town in Franklin County, rising 1,752 feet above sea level.