Situated in a large valley at the head of the Mystic Lakes, fed by the Aberjona, or Mystic, River and by Horn Pond Brook, Winchester was originally part of the Charlestown grant. Home to the earliest Indian reservation (1638–1639) in Massachusetts, the area remained a sparsely settled agricultural environment throughout the colonial period. The Middlesex Canal (see WO5; 1803) used the Mystic Lakes, bringing modest shoemaking activities from 1815 to 1830. The town of Winchester owes its existence to the construction of the Boston & Lowell Railroad, which opened in 1835. At this time, present-day Winchester was still a village of Woburn. With the introduction of regular train service to Boston, the village saw small industries flourish, and a number of local residents prospered. The village also attracted commuters—Boston professionals and business leaders—whose aspirations came to diverge from those of the farmers and shoemakers who had long populated the area. The newcomers ultimately led the effort that resulted in the formation of Winchester in 1850. Today the commuter train continues to run through the center of the community and contributes to Winchester's suburban character. The rich variety of buildings from the later nineteenth and twentieth centuries document Winchester's continued prosperity.
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