Wendell has an area of 32.22 square miles, with a population of approximately 850 adults. The Millers River runs along the entire northern boundary, separating Wendell from Erving. Other abutting towns are Montague, New Salem, Orange, Shutesbury, and Warwick. Located south of the Millers River, Wendell State Forest covers 7,566 acres of rolling forested hills, streams, ponds, and trails.
Mount Grace State Forest, on route 78 near the New Hampshire border, this 1,689-acre forest includes a picnic area, table and fireplaces. There are streams for fishing and trails for hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Hunting is also allowed. The summit of Mt. Grace rises to an elevation of 1,617 feet, making it the second-highest peak in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River. A trail beginning on the west side of the mount, near the administration building, provides a 1 1/2 hour hike to the top. A fire observation tower is atop the summit. Call (978) 544-3939 for further information.
Wendell State Forest, features the Ruggles Pond recreation area, which can be reached by taking Montague Road from the center of Millers Falls, Wendell Depot Road from Route 2A in Orange, or Cooleyville Road from Route 202 in Shutesbury. The area features a large ball field, picnic areas,mountain biking trails, swimming and fishing in Ruggles Pond, and groomed cross-country skiing trails. The 7,900-acre forest also includes Wickett Pond, which has a boat ramp, Mormon Hollow Brook and offers opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, fishing and hunting. Several dirt roads crisscross the forest.
Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, is a marked interstate footpath linking Connecticut to Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire. The track goes into Wendell, Erving, Northfield, Warwick and Royalston. In Wendell, the trail runs from the Ruggles Pond parking area inside Wendell State Forest and follows into Erving. White rectangular blazes mark the trail along which can be found scenic vistas. Call (978) 249-3849 for a trail guide.
Wendell Old Home Days is usually held the second weekend in August in the center of town, featuring local music, crafts, games and food. Call (978) 544-7352 for further information.
Wendell, one of the hilltowns of eastern Franklin County, was incorporated on May 8, 1781. Its territory was originally composed of a tract taken from the north part of Shutesbury and that part of Ervingshire (now Erving) which lay south of the Millers River. On February 28, 1803, a tract known as "Benjamin Hill Gore" and a one-mile wide strip from Montague were added.
The first settlement was made as early as 1754 by Thomas Osgood and others. Upon incorporation in 1781, a town meeting was held at the house of Jonathan Osgood, where the parish and town meeting were mostly held until 1783. Deacon Osgood was chosen as moderator; James Ross as clerk; Lot Pain, John Ross and Samuel Denny as selectmen; and Nathan Brewer and John Wetherbee,as tything-men.
Also in 1781, provision was made for building a meeting house, which was furnished with a bell by Judge Olvier Wendell of Boston, in whose honor the town is named. A Congregational Church was formed on November 30, 1774. In this church, Reverand Abraham Hill preached in proportion to the amount of taxes that were paid. A meeting house was erected in 1783. On June 11, 1799, a Baptist Church was formed, under the preaching and influence of Smallidge. The Baptists erected their first house of worship in 1819.
The first road that opened in Wendell was one from Shutesbury in 1756. During the same year, a country road was opened through the south part from Montague to New Salem. The old road from New Salem through Wendell center and Montague was located in 1762.
For the first 50 years, the people depended almost entirely upon their farms for a livelihood. Grain, flax, cattle, sheep and swine were the products. Shingles, broom handles and staves were shaved out during the long winter evenings. Extensive forest land has made logging an ongoing business for many years.