Bedford is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, falling within the Greater Boston area, 15 miles (24 km) northwest of the city of Boston. The land now within the boundaries of Bedford was first settled by Europeans around 1640. The Bedford flag on display at the Bedford Free Public Library is the oldest known surviving intact battle flag in the United States. It is celebrated for having been the first U.S. flag flown during the American Revolutionary War, as it is believed to have been carried by Nathaniel Page’s outfit of Minutemen to the Old North Bridge in Concord for the Battle of Concord on April 19, 1775.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 13.9 square miles (36 km2), of which 13.7 square miles (35 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) is water. Bedford is approximately 15 miles (24 km) away from the coast. Bedford is relatively circular in shape.
In addition to the Concord River, which forms part of the town’s borders, the Shawsheen River flows through town. Vine Brook flows from Lexington, Massachusetts, through Burlington, Massachusetts and into the Shawsheen in Bedford. In the 1840s, a large paper mill was built on Vine Brook, providing many of the jobs in town. Historic transportation systems that ran through Bedford included the narrow-gauge Billerica and Bedford Railroad and the Middlesex Turnpike.