Located on the eastern slope of the Nashua River Valley, the land is characterized by rolling hills and sloping valleys. With few rivers and waterways, Bolton was not a mill town like many early settlements in Massachusetts. While there are many varieties of rocks and minerals to be found within the town, only limestone was quarried and marketed here. The town is part of the Metrowest area, and is surrounding by the towns of Harvard, Stow, Hudson, Berlin, Clinton, and Lancaster.
Bolton was originally settled as part of Lancaster, Massachusetts, which was incorporated in 1653 as a plantation. Following King Philip’s War, which devastated Lancaster, settlers began looking to the land in what would become Bolton, believing that a more spread out settlement would be less likely to come under future attack. Many of these early settlers’ homes were designated as garrisons to protect the town. Bolton was incorporated as a town separate from Lancaster in 1738.
The town’s agricultural economic base flourished and it remained a center for dairy farming, poultry, and orchards through the start of the 20th century. As roads, including Routes 117 and 85 saw improvements, more residents began finding employment outside of the town borders. With the construction of Route 495 in 1964, the town completed its transformation to a residential community, though its primary industry remains agriculture. Today, the town is characterized by its rural feel, with homes situated on large lots, with farms dotting the landscape.