Friday, April 3, 2009

Old Photographs: The Connecticut River at Springfield

Offering a fertile fishery and shipping access to Long Island Sound that was crucial to the area's settlement and subsequent growth, William Pynchon and Company made a fruitful decision to hunker down on the banks of the Connecticut River, establishing Springfield in 1636. Indeed, for two-hundred years the river was the preferred method of cartage to points north or south, until the late 1840s, when rail travel became the more efficient way to go.

Today, the Connecticut River is popular with recreational boaters and anglers. The river boasts a large range of aquatic species that lure fishing aficionados from all over the area and its annual Spring Shad run is a regular (and much-anticipated) local draw. The Connecticut River is also a popular nesting spot for some pretty awesome birds, with a healthy and sustained American Bald Eagle population taking up residence along its shores. Just goes to show, even America's symbol of freedom knows Western Massachusetts is pretty cool.

The photographs below were scanned from the book Springfield Present and Prospective, published in that city in 1905 by Pond & Campbell and printed by the F. A. Bassette Company, also of Springfield. Although the book doesn't date the photographs - images of the Connecticut River running through Springfield - it stands to reason they are pre-1905 because of the book's publish date. The captions in quotes are original to the book.

"View of the River, looking South." (Photographer: Clifton Johnson)

"Homes of Some of the Boat Clubs." (Photographer: Clifton Johnson)

"The Old Toll Bridge, erected in 1816." (Photographer: A. D. Copeland)

"High School Boys on the Connecticut." (Photographer: A. D. Copeland)

"Sport on the Connecticut." (Photographer: A. D. Copeland)

"A Commanding View of the River from Pecowsic." (Photographer: E. J. Lazelle)

Here's a link to a great web site with lots of information on the Connecticut River created by the folks who brought you the documentary 'Under Quabbin,' Professors Ed and Libby Klekowski:

And to the Connecticut River Watershed Council, stewards of the river:

And here's a link to an informative article with images by historian Ralph Slate at, 'Springfield's Bridges Across the Connecticut':

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

(Map at top left circa 1895)

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