Special Features - Then & Now

Below the Dam at Turners Falls

Orra White Hitchcock's illustration of Turners Falls courtesy Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association. Modern Image courtesy of Ric Thomas, City-Data.com, 2007.

Click and hold down the colored image and move it back and forth over the image beneath to see how the same view has changed over time.

Orra White Hitchcock created this image of Turners Falls, Massachusetts, in 1818. In Orra's time, a ferry was used to cross the Connecticut River above the waterfall. The colorful photograph on top is from 2007. The dam visible in both images shows the effect of the Industrial Revolution on a small, rural town. The first dam was constructed in 1798, along with a canal that brought water power to the town's small sawmills. Construction of the dam caused areas of the riverbed containing fossils to be exposed. Later, starting around 1870, textile, paper, and cutlery mills lined the canal and river banks. Logging was also a big industry until around 1915, as logs from farther north in New Hampshire and Vermont came through Turners Falls on their way to Holyoke, Massachusetts, and further south. The bridge that now passes over the dam was completed in 1938. There was a suspension bridge built in 1878 just up the river, within view from the other side of this one. The suspension bridge was damaged by storms in the 1930s and then dismantled.