Dalton was first settled in 1755 and was officially incorporated in 1784. The town was named after Tristram Dalton, the Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives at the time of the town's incorporation. Dalton was settled as a rural/industrial community, with mills set up along the East Branch of the Housatonic River, and small but good patches of farmland in areas away from it. In 1801, Zenas Crane, Henry Wiswall and John Willard set up a paper mill along the river which, by 1844, had begun producing bank note paper, which was purchased by banks all the way to Boston. The company, Crane & Co., still is the largest employer in town, making paper products, stationery, and, since 1873, has been the only supplier of paper for the Federal Reserve Note, the United States' paper money. The town now has a mix of small town and suburban qualities, having been served by trolleys to Pittsfield for many years.