Montague - The Town of Montague, comprised of five villages, is nestled along the Connecticut River in the upper Pioneer Valley. Montague is a diverse area that is rich in history and culture. The town’s landscape, 31.5 square miles, is a rare combination of rolling hills, fertile farmlands, historic mills and residential villages. It is a thriving town of 8,500 people that offers a unique mixture of business and industrial opportunities, easily accessible to Route 2 and Interstate 91.
- The Shea Theater, on Avenue A in Turners Falls, is an old movie house that has been restored and is now a center for performing arts. It hosts a regular program of music, dance, comedy and plays. Call 413-863-2281 for further information.
- Unity Park, between First and Third streets in Turners Falls, features views of the Connecticut River, playing fields, and a playground. A low portion at the end of the narrow field along the river opposite the parking offers unoffical river access for kayaks and canoes.
- Fish Ladder, operated by FirstLight Power, gives viewers a chance to watch anadromous fish such as shad as they make their journey up the Connecticut River each spring. Located at the Turners Falls dam, the viewing facility is open Wednesday through Sunday, mid-May through June, 9 am to 5 pm. Parking is available behind the Town Hall. (413) 659-3714
- Carnegie Library, on Avenue A in Turners Falls, has an "Artifacts Loft" that features a small exhibit, including an early Indian arrowhead collection, local memorabilia and relics from the Revolutionary War through World War II. The free Music and Movement series for young children is held Thursdays at 10 am at a different Montague library depending on the month, check the schedule. Computers avaliable for public use. (413) 863-3214
- Great Falls Discovery Center, on Avenue A in Turners Falls, is a natural history museum exploring the Connecticut River. The museum consists of murals and dioramas with animal speciments representing the different habitats along the river. Open 10 am to 4 pm seven days a week in summer, Friday and Saturday only in winter. For more information call (413) 863-3221.
- Canalside Rail Trail offers cyclists, runners and others a path from First Street along the power canal almost four miles to the Deerfield rail yard.
- Bitzer Fish Hatchery, is operated by the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and raises trout for stocking throughout the state. Located on Hatchery Road, which connects Montague and Greenfield Roads, the facility is open 9 am to 3 pm. Call (413) 367-2477 for further information.
- Bridge of Names, is a wooden footbridge offering a view of the lake in the village of Lake Pleasant. The pickets along the bridge are inscribed with names of both locals and famous people.
- Montague Bookmill, Books you don't need in a place you can't find.
- Montague Old Home Days, held annual mid-August in Montague Center. The festivities includes games, auction, music, food and a 5.5 mile footrace called the Mug Race.
- Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival, is a medieval and renaissance fair held in late June.
- Great Falls Festival, Street festival featuring vendors, food, music and lit carved of pumpkins. Held in October along Avenue A in Turners Falls.
- Franklin County Spring Parade, wends its way around the upper hill portion of Turners Falls each April.
Montague, incorporated in 1754, consists of the five villages: Montague Center, Montague City, Turners Falls, Millers Falls and Lake Pleasant. Of the five, Turners Falls developed into the most populated and industrialized community and is the site of the town offices. The growth was primarily due to water power generated after a dam and canal were built near the falls on the Connecticut River in the 1790's, which attracted industry.
The village is named after Captain William Turner, who was regarded as one of the military heroes of the Indian Wars. In 1676, during King Philip's War, Captain Turner led a group of about 160 mounted soldiers from Hadley and made a surprise attack on several hundred Indians, including women and children, who had camped near the falls. The massacre, which cost Turner his life, helped quell Indian attacks on settlers throughout the Connecticut River Valley. Around 1865, Colonel Alvah Crocker, a prominent man from Fitchburg envisioned in the immense water power of the falls the means of establishing a great city. He, along with Wendell T. Davis and the other owners of the Upper Locks and Canal Co., planned the village and influenced a number of industries to move to Turners Falls.
Some of the first companies located there were: Turners Falls Lumber Co., Montague Paper Co., at the time one of the largest producers of newspaper in the country; the Turners Falls Paper Co.; and the John Russell Cutlery Co., then the largest cutlery factory in America, which had been originally established in Greenfield on the Green River. Montague Center, which still has a town hall, was once part of Sunderland. It wasn't until 1774 that the town had enough citizens to entitle it to a separate representative to the General Court, having before shared representation with Sunderland. Among the earliest settlers are believed to be Ebenezer Marsh, Samuel Taylor, Samuel Harvey, William Allis, Joseph Root and Nathaniel Gunn. The Sawmill River helped give rise to a variety of small industries that produced items such as scythe snaths, wagons, hats, chairs, furniture, rakes and wallets.
Montague City, was the site of a successful brick-making plant started by Rector L. Goss in 1870. It was also the home of Montague Rod & Reel Company, nationally renowned bamboo fishing rods and reels were made. Barney Farren, the builder of the Farren House, later known as the Grand Trunk Hotel, in Turners Falls, made his home there. He was also the benefactor of the Farren Hospital, now know as the Farren Care Center.
Lake Pleasant was once a thriving resort community that attracted spiritualists. Millers Falls, at one time called Grout's Corner, benefited from the Millers River, which attracted various industries, including Millers Falls Tool Co., founded Levi Gunn and Charles Amidon from Greenfield.
For more information, visit the Montague Town Website.