Upton is located in Worcester County, 13 miles south of Worcester, Massachusetts. Covering 21.7 square miles, it borders Grafton, Westborough, Hopkinton, Milford, Northbridge, Mendon, and Hopedale. Its population is approximately 7,500 people.
To preserve the open spaces and green areas , Upton has purchased parcels of land that will remain conservation areas. In conjunction with the State forest property, these areas make up a significant portion of Upton’s land area. Residents can enjoy recreational activities in these areas, as well as Kiwanis Beach and Pratt Pond.
Upton, Massachusetts was home to the Nipmuc Indians, along with much of the central area of the state. It was first settled by European settlers in 1728, and then incorporated in 1735, taking land from surrounding towns including Hopkinton, Mendon, Uxbridge, and Sutton. It is thought to have gotten its name due to its proximity to Worcester, mirroring the towns of Worcester and Upton in England.
For over 100 years, the main industry in town was boots and shoes. By 1837, over 21% of all the shoes produced in Worcester County came from Upton. Industry expanded to include hats and bonnets in the 1860s, and small shops soon became larger factories. In 1873, the railroad came to Upton, again changing the face of the town.
During the 20th century, residents began to turn to employment outside of the town limits, and the population boomed. However, Upton has remained committed to maintaining its small town feel, carefully managing the growth and development of businesses and housing.
Upton claims one of its most famous residents as Eli Whitney. Born in 1765 and raised in Massachusetts, he then graduated from Yale College. His most famous invention was the cotton gin, which helped introduce the concepts of interchangeable parts and mass production. With this, he changed the course of history, ushering in the Industrial Revolution.
Whitney saw the need for a cotton gin in southern farms, where the cleaning of cotton was a laborious task. With the cotton gin, farmers were able to clean this cotton efficiently, allowing them to produce and sell more, and the South flourished.
He then mastered the concept of interchangeable parts with an order for 10,000 muskets. By mass-producing individual parts, these muskets could be quickly assembled and repaired, changing the way items were manufactured across the globe. Though he did not create this idea, he is responsible for the popularization the acceptance of it.
Whitney is just one example of the innovation and excellence that began in Upton. This proud Massachusetts town has much to offer in its traditions, culture, and eye towards the future.