Located in Worcester County, Princeton, Massachusetts is primarily a residential town in central Massachusetts. Covering almost 36 square miles, its most prominent geographic feature is Mount Wachusett, the highest peak in eastern Massachusetts and a regional recreational attraction.
Princeton is bordered by several towns including Sterling, Leominster, Westminster, Hubbardston, Rutland, and Holden. Its 3,400 residents rely on local and state routes to access Route 2 to the north and 190 to the east. Due to the popularity of the residential towns in the region, the MBTA has plans to extend its service along the Fitchburg line out to Princeton. The building of the Wachusett station is expected to bring convenient service for residents to access Boston.
Princeton was once a part of Rutland, Massachusetts, which contains the geographic center of the state. Rutland was first settled in 1666 under the name Niquag. Princeton was then created in 1759, and named after Reverend Thomas Prince. It later annexed land in 1810 and 1870 from Hubbarston and Westminster, respectively, to form the town as it exists today.
One of the town’s landmarks, Redemption Rock, is known as the site where Mary Rowlandson was ransomed. Mrs. Rowlandson was taken and held captive by the Native Americans for eleven weeks before being bought back with funds raised by the women of Boston. She went on to write and publish her captivity story.
During the 1800s, Princeton became a popular vacation destination in Massachusetts drawing such historical figures as Thomas Edison, Louisa May Alcott, Sarah Bernhardt, and Lydia Pinkham. Agriculture, including blueberries, as well as small industries also flourished.
These all declined in the 1900s, as Princeton became the quiet residential town it is today.
Mount Wachusett is the highest peak in Massachusetts, east of the Connecticut River. It straddles the towns of Princeton and Westminster, and is a popular recreational destination in both summer and winter. From its 2,000 ft. summit, visitors can see Mount Greylock, Mount Monadnock, into Vermont, and Boston.
The mountain has long drawn tourists to the area, with the first summit hotel opening in 1882. Though the hotel is now closed due to fire, the mountain still attracts visitors to the state reservation for hiking throughout the summer and fall and winter sports during the colder seasons, with the first ski trails opening in the 1930s.
The mountain is home to the Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, a popular ski destination for Massachusetts residents who do not wish to make the trek to the peaks in northern New England. With 110 skiable acres across 26 trails, there is a wide variety of skiing available for all levels. Skiing is typically open from November through April, with snow-making throughout the season.
Princeton, Massachusetts is a town with a long history that has seen many famous visitors. From its earliest days at Redemption Rock to modern ski facilities, residents of this quiet town take pride in its history and growth.