History & Attractions
Lanesborough was one of the first towns to be settled in Berkshire County. First named Richfield, then New Framingham, the name was changed again when the Town was incorporated 1765 in honor of the Countess of Lanesborough, a friend of Governor Francis Bernard. Originally a farming community, the town grew to become a prosperous mining and industrial center and remained one until the railroad came through the City of Pittsfield. In 1847, iron was discovered and the Briggs Iron Company was founded, becoming the Lanesborough Iron Works in 1885. Marble also was an important export. Pure white and extremely desirable, more than $200,000 was quarried and shipped in one year in the 1840s.
Doe on the side of the roadThe Town's most famous son was Henry Wheeler Shaw who wrote under the name Josh Billings and gained fame in the 1800s as a sort of Will Rogers observer of the human condition. The home in which he was born and lived in until his death was burned down in 1962 by the owner who was protesting a property tax increase.
Lanesborough and the City of Pittsfield share Pontoosuc Lake, one of the largest lakes in Berkshire County and a popular recreation area. Another very popular recreational asset is the recently constructed Ashuwillticook Rail Trail which runs through the towns of Lanesborough, Cheshire and Adams along an old abandoned railroad bed.
Historical Image of Balance RockMount Greylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts, is partially situated in Lanesborough. Rockwell Road provides Historical Image of Balance Rock the main access to the summit. The road passes the Greylock Visitor's Center, where there are exhibits and a spectacular view of the Housatonic Valley stretching beyond.
The town also is home to Balance Rock State Park where there is indeed a giant triangular boulder 30 feet long by 15 feet wide poised on its tip on top of another rock, a creation of the last glacial era. One of the few remaining open springs in the area is located in the section of town known as Berkshire Village People come from all around to fill their water jugs with the exceptional spring water to be found there. Colored glass from a glassworks that flourished in the Village at the turn of the 19th century is to be found in many a Tiffany window.
Balance Rock in state parkToday, Lanesborough is essentially Balance Rock in state park a small residential community with a few farms and small businesses. The Berkshire Mall, located in Town, adjacent to the City of Pittsfield, is the Town's largest employer.