Connecticut River Valley -- Thursday, 6/23/16

While staying at Erving State Forest, we thought to explore some of the surrounding area, including two "falls" we spotted on the atlas.  Off we went in Smartie on the Mohawk Trail -- Hwy 2 West toward Millers Falls.  The scenery was superb, and when we crossed the placid-appearing Connecticut River (below) at French King Bridge, we stopped to admire the north view.

At Millers River (above) we couldn't find a falls.  When we stopped a local fella on a bicycle and asked where the falls was, he looked puzzled and decided we must be lost.  He eventually came up with the suggestion that Turners Falls, further west, was the place we needed.  We thanked him, smiling, and continued on to Turners Falls.

How nice it is to be free of bugs for now!  In the Boston area, we'd traded those deafening 17-year Periodic Cicadas we found in Pennsylvania for Gypsy Moth caterpillars (ugh!).  Good grief, everything at our campsite and in the entire area was littered with caterpillar droppings ... little tiny poopers.  The day Jimmy and I and Rob went for a bike ride our tires crunched poopers that literally covered the asphalt path beneath the trees.  Here in Northwestern Mass, all is good.

We were surprised to to find an excellent paved walking/biking path alongside the Turners Falls Canal.  Completed in 1798, the canal included a log-crib dam across the Connecticut River at the Great Falls. The canal was 2.5 miles long, had ten locks and a towpath on its eastern shore.

Most northern towns near moving water became home to mills ... saw mills, woolen mills, grist mills, paper mills, etc.  Turners Falls had a number of paper mills, all gone now, but the large smokestacks remain.  Almost all of the beautiful red brick buildings are empty, or have attracted smaller, cleaner industries.

(During the period 1868 – 1897, several mills were attracted to the cheap power available at Turners Falls. The most notable among them was the John Russell Cutlery Company (1868), best known for the production of the Jim Bowie Knife. Other industries that figured prominently in the early development of Turners Falls were the Montague Paper Company (1871), Keith Paper Company (1871), Turners Falls Paper Company (1897), Marshall Paper Company (1895), the Turners Falls Cotton Mill (1874) and Turners Falls Power Company (1885), the forerunner of Western Massachusetts Electric Company.)

All is calm these days.

Milkweed at this latitude is not quite open, but this bee will soon be enjoying nectar.

Several low and old bridges are still being used over the power canal.

A fish ladder was established in 1980, and it's open for public viewing during the height of spawning season from mid-May to mid-June ... too bad it closed the day before!  Shad, lampreys and Atlantic salmon are a few of the fish that can be seen.

Imagine seeing an opening like this, and more than one, that housed old canal passages.

The expanded dam and power canal on the Connecticut River was constructed between 1903-1914. We spent quite a long time poking into nooks and crannies, hiking the power canal trail, followed by a visit to the free Great Falls Discovery Center (below).  This place was a treasure trove of canal and river information.  We love traveling into and investigating these old towns.

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Somehow Jimmy and I are fortunate enough to get on roads less traveled and end up in interesting places that amaze us, like Historic Deerfield MA.  In this country alone, we have hundreds of thousands of small towns, new and old alike, bustling or declining, that have stories to tell.  Historic Deerfield is one of those.  We didn't have time to tour the homes inside, but we made time to walk part of the mile-long street lined with stately Maples and the glorious homes of yesteryear.

First Church of Deerfield (founded in 1688) ... this church built in 1824.

Connecticut River Valley -- historic, fertile, productive.  And green.

Sometimes I feel like these sagging shutters.  Know what I mean?


  1. Sagging oh. Shutters. LOL. I saw,the,Connecticut River as I drove north to Vermont from Boston a couple of years ago. I didn't have the luxury of time to explore so really enjoyed your photos and stories.

  2. Love those old saltbox New England homes!


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