Northfield is a rural community bordered by Vernon, Windham County, Vermont, and Hinsdale and Winchester, Cheshire County, New Hampshire, to the north, Warwick to the east, Erving to the south, Gill to the southwest and Bernardston to the northwest. It is a town of farmland, forested hills, streams, wetlands and wildlife. Northfield is the only town in Massachusetts situated on both sides of the Connecticut River. The town has a total area of 35.4 square miles with a population of approximately 3,000.
D.L. Moody Museum, at the corner of Moody Street and Highland Aveue, presents the life and career of 19th century evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody, who founded the boys' school and girls' school that merged to become Northfield Mount Hermon in 1971. Among the items exhibited in a special wing of Moody's birthplace are photographs, statues of him and his bronze death mask. Open by appointment only. Call 413-498-3000 for a tour. Switchboard open Monday - Saturday.
Northfield Historical Society, on Pine Street, displays three centuries of toys, art, textiles and other items owned by Northfield families. Hours vary. Open Sunday afternoons 2:00 to 4:00 pm July and August. Also open Wednesday evenings 6:30 to 8:00 pm June through September. Call 413-498-5472 for appointment or information.
Dickinson Memorial Library, on Main Street. The two-story brick library has the original tiled floor; 14 stained glass windows, cozy reading, but with all the modern conveniences including wireless access. Open Tuesay 1 to 8 pm; Wednesday and Thursday 1 to 6 pm; Friday 10 am to 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am to 3 pm. Call 413-468-2455 for further information
Northfield Mountain is the site of Northeast Utilities' Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, located on Route 63 near the Millers Falls town line. The pumped storage generating plan is housed deep inside the mountain and has the capability of generating one million killowatts of electricity. Water from the Connecticut River is pumped up to a 300-acree reservior on top of the mountain, and then allowed to pour back down through the turbines. Northfield Mountain also offers a variety of environmental and recreational programs, including cross-country ski trails. 413-659-3714
Pauchaug Brook, is a boat ramp and wildlife management area located on Route 10. The boat ramp offers access to the Connecticut River. Boaters can camp overnight or picnic at Northfield Mountain's Munn's Ferry campground a few miles downstream.
Northfield's early days were marked by nearly 90 years of harrassment and danger from the French and Indian Wars. The settlement was established three times, abandoned and destroyed twice. Originally, Northfield was called Squakheag, which was allegedly derived from the Indian term that meant "a spearing place for salmon". In 1671, a tract of 10,560 acres was purchased from them by men from Northampton for what was termed a "valuable consideration". In 1673, an additional 3,000 acres was purchased for 200 fathoms of wampum. From 1673, when the settlers built small thatched roofed huts within a stockade and fort, until 1675, when King Philip's war began, life was peaceful. But after an Indian attack on Sept. 2, 1675, settlers abandoned the area, retiring to Hadley. Squakheag was resettled in 1683. Five years later, it was again attacked by Indians. In 1690, because of increasing danger, the General Court ordered the place be abandoned. In 1704, the remains of the town were destroyed by French soldiers and their Indian allies from Canada. Finally, in 1713, some of the surviving proprietors of Squakheag petitioned the Court for a revival of the original grant of 1672. This time the town became permanently established and on June 15, 1723, Northfield was incorporated as a town. The first town meeting and election of officers was held on July 22. Incorporation did not bring peace, however. In 1745, the fort in Great Meadow was attacked by about 80 French and Indians. Further incidents occurred in 1747, 1748 and 1756. It wasn't until the fall of Quebec in 1759 and the subsequent signing of the Peace of Paris in 1763 that ended the French and Indian Wars that peace finally came to Northfield.
The town is noted as the birthplace of Dwight Lyman Moody, the famous evangelist who founded Northfield Young Ladies' Seminary in 1879 and Mount Hermon Boy's school in 1881. The schools merged to become Northfield Mount Hermon School. Moody also founded the Northfield Religious Conferences, which attracted people from all over the world.