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 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.
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.
Named after President James Monroe, who served in office from 1817 to 1825, the town of Monroe was settled in the early 1800s and incorporated on February 21, 1822. It was a farming community until 1887, when paper mills were built. The first white settlers began to establish roots around 1800. David Canedy and his family from Colrain are believed to be the first settlers. Among the others were Ebenezer Hayward, Samuel and Daniel Gore, the four Ballou brothers, Thomas Hines, Dana Phelps, Thomas Stafford, Asa Bullock and the Briant family.
The town is sometimes called Monroe Bridge. The reason for this is that after completion of the Hoosac Tunnel & Willington Railroad, crewmen were told to leave the town's mailbags at the Monroe bridge, which spanned the Deerfield River, connecting Monroe with Rowe. When the post office was established in 1888, it became known as the Monroe Bridge Post Office. Monroe Bridge refers to the center of town.
The area's first railroad was put in operation in 1885, helping to establish industry. It was built by the Newton brothers from Holyoke for the purpose of hauling pulp from their pulp mill in Readsboro, VT, to Holyoke. Residents referred to the railroad as the "Hoot, Toot & Whistle."
The railroad attracted the James Ramage Paper Co., which was built in 1887 and put in operation the next year. The mill was the forerunner of Deerfield Specialty Papers Inc., which closed in 1984. The Ramage family built a store, post office and houses for workers and themselves.
Monroe was the first Franklin County town to elect a woman to its board of selectmen, voting in Inga Koksvik in 1932.