Category Archives: Local history

Historical posts about the Connecticut Valley, most likely the Pioneer Valley.

New Weir Information

I spoke too soon about ancient Indian weirs in the neighborhood. So, with new information in hand about the stone fishing structures, a follow-up’s in order. My last column questioned the curious (to me) design, and thus the functionality, of two extant, manmade, downstream-pointed weirs on the lower Westfield and uppermost Chicopee rivers. Little did […]

Indian Weir Dynamics: A New Twist

A long, winding path sat me in this bow-back Windsor chair this morning – seasoned-oak oozing warmth from the woodstove to stimulate thought about Indian weirs. My introduction to these manmade fish-catching structures occurred more than 30 years ago. Deerfield artist/illustrator Al Dray had been following my columns on salmon, shad, and ancient spring fishing […]

The Penalty-Box Home Run

March daybreak. Frosty. Spring in the air. Calm and clear. Brooks rattling – one a soothing roar, the other a gurgling whisper. Endless dawn sky blushing to a soft, warm blue. Soon the glitter of frosted lawns would vanish under the first rays of sun peeking over the eastern horizon. The perfect setting for an […]

Punch Brook Revisited

One never knows what peripheral treasures will appear during deed research. This one focuses on new information about a brook I wrote about less than two years ago. First, a preface. The brook reference jumped off a deed last week while I was trying to figure out a fascinating Revolutionary War powder horn owned by […]

Sugarloaf Suicide

Boyhood memories, however vivid they may seem, can be unreliable. Of this sobering fact I was reminded recently regarding a Mount Sugarloaf suicide that occurred during my free and easy days as a South Deerfield youth. I have over the past decade or so tried unsuccessfully many times to chase down that story in newspaper […]

Sturgeon Survive, Native Fishing Camps Fade

Two recent meetings I chose to attend pulled my focus to Connecticut River Basin fisheries and, more specifically, those of our own Pioneer Valley – a topic I have explored in depth over the years, be it with books, scientific reports, fishing rods, shotguns, or paddles in hand. First came the January 17 meeting of […]

G.W. Mark Rests in Secret Peace

Friday morning, raw and rainy, January fading away, and I’m pondering George Washington Mark… again. You may recall that I wrote about this famous Greenfield folk artist in recent weeks after finding his painting of a storied hound that was once the sporting pet of blacksmith and tavernkeeper Henry A. Ewers (1806-1867), a previous owner […]

Mount Toby Visit Stirs Memories

These days, I find myself wandering back and forth between local history and prehistory, and although my current focus leans strongly toward the former, the latter is always within reach. I get a good dose of cutting-edge discovery about ancient human-proboscidean (mastodon and wooly mammoth) interactions from archaeologist friend Mike Gramly, who in recent years […]

George Washington Mark Treasure Surfaces

Greenfield tradesman and folk artist George Washington Mark was well-known about town and in surrounding communities as an eccentric house, sign, furniture, carriage, and sleigh painter, not to mention a flamboyant downtown character, between 1817 and 1879, when he died in his 84th year. Born in 1795 in Charlestown, New Hampshire, Mark was said to […]

Not Devil’s Throne, Please

Ten a.m., Sunday before Thanksgiving, rays of blinding sunlight penetrating naked hardwoods from the source low in a partly cloudy southeastern sky. I’m parked beside a strong metal gate barring the south end of a long-ago discontinued county road born as in Indian trail. There I had reluctantly agreed to meet three members of a […]

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