Cultural Assets of the Mill River in Amherst

The Mill River is one of New England's historic jewels.  Site of important Native American settlements, occupied by English colonials only a generation after the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it played a major role in the development of the American character.  It's rare that such a small watershed has had so great an impact.

The Mill River Watershed has historically been a dynamic combination of agriculture, industry, and culture -- the rich soils of the Meadows, industries from an ingenious button factory to precision machinery, and, in the midst of all this lived, arguably, the most incisive intellect of 18th-century New England -- Jonathan Edwards.  It's a place where hard-headed commercial men lived cheek by jowl with communitarians, such as Sojourner Truth.

Truth be told, at its heart, the Mill River is an industrial and commercial river, its banks full of archeological sites, its bed diked and channelized.  Local newpapers and histories tell of scores of industries that adapted to changing America over 350 years.

In this section we'll explore the Mill River's floods, Native American sites, its transportation routes and modes, and many industrial enterprises.

Following is just a partial list of the river’s special cultural features. If you know of a treasure on the Mill River that you’d like to have listed (or can help us with one of the needs identified below), send us an email.

Listed geographically from headwaters to river mouth. We will add to this list when time permits.

  • Site of the 1874 Mill River Dam Disaster, East Branch in Williamsburg
  • Searsville, Williamsburg
  • Meekins River Park, Williamsburg
  • Photo credit: Helen Symons

    Dams - need an inventory of all the dams, breached and standing

  • Factories - need an inventory of the factories, archeological sites and standing
  • Trails - need an inventory
  • The Bike Path from Leeds to downtown Northampton
  • Paradise Pond in Northampton
  • The Hidden Mill River in downtown Northampton