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Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA (Globe) (Lensdale) (Saundersdale) (Shuttleville) - MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL COMMISSION RECONAISSANCE SURVEY REPORT
Southbridge is located in the southwestern corner of Worcester County just to the north of the Connecticut border. Its surface consists of a series of parallel north-south ridges in the western 2/ 3 of the town, with less defined, lower hills and ridges in the eastern 1/ 3. This topographical difference also marks a change from Brookfield series soils in the western portion to Charlton series soils in the eastern area. Elevations range form more than 1,000 feet above sea level in the south and southwest to 600-700
feet above sea level on the north and east orders.
Cutting a narrow, steep sided valley through the north central portion of the town is the Quinebaug River. The drop in elevation of more than 100 feet as the river winds approximately five miles through the town in a southwestern direction provided a number of good water power sites, as did its several tributary streams. Both the Brookfield and Charlton series loams, ranging from stony to fine loams, are valuable lands for agriculture. The best of the loams, when cleared for cultivation or left for pasture, are also fairly productive.
II. POLITICAL BOUNDARIES
Poll parish of "Honest Town" created from parts of Charlton, Dudley, and Sturbridge, 1801. Incorporated as Town of Southbridge from parts of Charlton, Dudley, and Sturbridge, 1816. Part of
Dudley annexed 1822. Part of Sturbridge annexed 1839. Bounds with Sturbridge established 1871. Bounds with Charlton and Dudley established 1907.
111. HISTORIC OVERVIEW
Urban-industrial center on the Quinebaug River corridor, with native sites possible at river falls areas. First European settlement probably ca. 1733, with Moses Marcy mills. Dispersed 18th century agricultural settlement as peripheral area of Sturbridge, Charlton, and Dudley. Early 19th century textile manufacturing of several Quinebaug River power sites, with major industrial concentration at Globe Village, and commercial/ institutional core at Southbridge Center. Commercial and industrial growth further stimulated by 1866 railroad connection, with major late 19th century industrial development by American Optical at Lensdale, and central commercial district growth. Immigrant labor population includes large proportion of French Canadians. Variety of 19th century worker housing and residential districts remain intact. Sustained American Optical growth appears to have maintained local economic base and impact of post-war development/ deterioration on historic urban landscape appears relatively light.
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