Ashland is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, considered part of the Metro West region. The area now known as Ashland was settled by Europeans in the early 18th century. Incorporated in 1846, it is considerably younger than many of the surrounding towns, as Ashland’s territory was taken in near-equal parts from the previously established towns of Hopkinton, Holliston and Framingham.
The construction of the Boston & Worcester Railroad in the 1830s was key to the town’s early development. Along with the Sudbury River, the railroad helped to attract numerous mills to develop a bustling boot and shoe industry. Business was later stimulated again in 1916 when local inventor Henry E. Warren developed the Warren Synchronizing Timer, making synchronous electric clocks possible by keeping alternating current flowing from power plants at a consistent 60 cycles per second.
Two major routes, 135 and 126, pass through town. Route 135 is dominated by older residential development of varying density and is also part of the route for the Boston Marathon, which began in Ashland on Pleasant Street until the start was moved to Hopkinton’s Main Street in 1924. Route 126 has developed rapidly since the 1980s, with farms giving way to shopping centers and condominiums. A key part of Ashland’s appeal is what is described as it “ideal” location, about midway between the cities of Boston and Worcester.