Turners Falls history

Published: 8/3/2020 3:03:39 PM

I would like to offer some additional pertinent history in relation to the “My Turn” July 8 entry “Great Falls or Turners Falls”.

The towns of Gill and Montague did not exist in 1676. There was no Riverside (Gill) or Turners Falls (Montague). The area of the current Turners Falls dam (the “Falls”) was wilderness and was seasonally occupied by indigenous people from various parts of the Northeast.

The incursion with the seasonal population that took place at the “Falls” during a period of the King Philip War happened on the north side of the river; presently the enclave of Riverside in the Town of Gill. During this time only a small gathering of indigenous people occupied the south bank; presently the Turners Falls side of the river.

Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) did not give the name Turners Falls to the village (the village did not exist). In 1823 Hitchcock (then principal at Deerfield Academy) was on a geological trip in the area and visited the “Falls” on the Connecticut River. Aware of what took place there in 1676, Hitchcock termed the “Falls” “Turners Falls” remembering William Turner who led the largely civilian group that engaged the recurrent population at the north bank, now Riverside, Gill.

The village name Turners Falls, is consequential from Alvah Crocker’s industrial development of the “Falls” and subsequent power canal. This began in 1864 when Crocker (1801-1874) first visited this area. Officially, Turners Falls — the village — is conceived in 1868 as a planned industrial community. Turners Falls is not specifically named for Capt. William Turner; the village name is a derivative of the “Falls” and its potential hydro-power recognized by Crocker. The “Falls” happened to be named Turners Falls.

Ed Gregory

Greenfield




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