Pioneer Valley


Pioneer Valley

. A group of businessmen interested in promoting tourism gave the name to the region in 1939.

Geology

The Pioneer Valley covers approximately the second lowest quarter of the Connecticut River Valley, an ancient Rift Valley created by the breakup of the supercontinent Pangea along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge during the Triassic and Jurassic periods of the Mesozoic Era. The Connecticut River has been flowing through the Valley for millions of years, and was dammed to form glacial lake Hitchcock during the last ice age.

Geologically interesting parts of the valley are the basalt flows and dinosaur tracks in South Hadley, a chain of basaltic traprock ridges along the ancient tectonic rift including the Mount Holyoke and Mount Tom ranges, layers of rock deposit laid down by the river, and the Lake Hitchcock varves and deltas.

Political geography

The river valley and the neighboring Hill Towns comprise the entirety of the Pioneer Valley.

Franklin County

The rural Franklin County is the most rural county of Massachusetts. Greenfield is the largest municipality.

Hampshire County

Hampshire County is the home of five prominent colleges. Significant municipalities are Northampton and Amherst.

Hampden County

The mostly urban Hampden County is dominated by the cities of Springfield, Chicopee, Westfield, and Holyoke (listed in order of population).

Demographics

Ethnicity

The ethnic and racial diversity varies greatly between urban and rural areas. Fact|date=February 2007Although long predominantly European-American, the region is rapidly growing in non-European diversity in urban areas, notably in Latino population. Fact|date=February 2007 Among the European-American community, the population reflects the British Isles background of the original settlers and the immigrant population through the late-1800s, with large numbers of individuals with backgrounds of Irish, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, French Canadian, and Greek heritage. Fact|date=February 2007 The Latino community has a significant Puerto Rican community. Fact|date=February 2007 Amherst is home to the largest number of Asian-Americans, as well as South and East Asians. Fact|date=February 2007. Russian and Ukrainian immigrants from the former Soviet Union are increasing in Springfield and surrounding communities.

Educational institutions

The most well-known are the members of the Five Colleges consortium:
* Amherst College
* Hampshire College
* Mount Holyoke College
* Smith College
* University of Massachusetts Amherst

Other four-year colleges include:
* American International College
* Bay Path College
* Elms College
* Springfield College
* Western New England College
* Westfield State College

Dedicated Graduate Schools include:
* Conway School of Landscape Design

Community colleges in the area include:
*Greenfield Community College
*Holyoke Community College
*Springfield Technical Community College

In addition, there are private middle and high schools in the area, including:
*Deerfield Academy
*Stoneleigh-Burnham School
*Northfield Mount Hermon
*Williston Northampton School
*The Bement School
*Academy at Charlemont
*Eaglebrook
*Cathedral High School (Springfield, Massachusetts)

History

Culture

The Pioneer Valley is sometimes known to its inhabitants as "Happy Valley", but more typically residents refer to it simply as "the Valley." It is the "valley full o' Pioneer" in "the sleepy west of the woody east" of which the Pixies sang in the song "UMass."

Art

Valley residents also have a love of arts, both visual and performing, as demonstrated by numerous art galleries, countless theaters and performances, the residencies of both Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle in the valley, the visual Dr. Seuss Memorial in Springfield, and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Local media

*PREDVESTNIK, The Russian Language Newspaper of Pioneer Valley, ( [http://www.predvestnik.com Official website] )

Independent bookstores

With an independent bookstore in almost every town, several small publishers, and countless local authors, the Valley could well be counted as a reader's paradise. Amherst has at least four bookstores, South Hadley has at least one notable bookstore ("The Odyssey Bookshop"). Since the late 1980s, Montague has had The Bookmill, and the World Eye Bookshop is in its 40th year in Greenfield. Northampton has least four independent bookstores. One of the more popular, Raven Used Books, features a wide variety of titles and subjects. [http://www.ravenusedbooks.com]

Recreation

Economy

The Pioneer Valley has a broadly varied economic baseFact|date=February 2007.

Franklin County

Franklin County in the north serves as a significant agricultural region despite its size, due to the rich topsoil found in the area. The valley's sweet corn and asparagus are considered, especially among New Englanders to be some of the world's finest. Cow Corn, potatoes, and shade-grown tobacco are also major crops. Fields of all sort, particularly corn and tobacco fields, as well as numerous farmhouses and tobacco barns dot the landscape. Light industry is concentrated in the town of South Deerfield and the city of Greenfield, while service industries exist throughout the county. Increasingly Franklin County is becoming a place of bedroom communities, with the major transportation routes of Interstate 91, Route 2, and U.S. Route 5 facilitating a boom in residential building that has not kept pace with commercial development in many of the county's towns.

The [http://hallmark.edu/ Hallmark Institute of Photography] is located in Turners Falls.

Two major corporations, Channing Bete and Yankee Candle, are headquartered in South Deerfield and Greenfield. Both communities have been had controversial zoning issues surrounding permitting variances to build big box stores such as Wal-Mart. Greenfield received national attention when its decision prevented Wal-Mart from building a store in town.

The county also garners tourism due to such attractions as Historic Deerfield (which hosts a craft fair in the summer and an even larger and more popular fall craft fair) , and a Butterfly Garden located in South Deerfield. The annual arrival of thousands of American and foreign tourists to observe the area's spectacular autumn foliage is a welcome boost to revenue.

Hampshire County

With the Five Colleges, Hampshire County has a significant part of its economy devoted to serving college students, including numerous independent bookstores and stationery shops.

The area is also home to many restaurants, ranging in class from sports bars to steakhouses. Northampton (also known to some as Hamp and others as NoHo) is the culinary capital of Western Massachusetts as well as having a reputation as a lesbian Mecca. The practice of adding candy, crushed cookies, and nuts to individual servings of ice cream, commonly called "smoosh-ins" or "mix-ins," was invented by Steve Herrell, proprietor of Herrell's ice cream parlor in Northampton.

With the exception of New England-based supermarkets (Big Y, Stop & Shop, Pricechopper), almost all of the big-box retailers in Hampshire County are located in the town of Hadley where the Hampshire Mall and the Mountain Farms Mall are located. Save for Hadley, and perhaps Northampton, the rest of the region is a land of "mom and pop" stores and a spattering of chain convenience stores.

Hampden County

With most of the large cities in Western Massachusetts, Hampden County generally has a more commercial-industrial economy than anywhere else in the region, a land of big-box retailers and heavy industry.

Tourism is also popular, particularly from the rest of New England, due to the museums at The Quadrangle, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and CityStage in Springfield, and attractions such as The Big E in the town of West Springfield, and Six Flags New England in Agawam. The Holyoke Mall at Ingleside in Holyoke, Memorial Drive in Chicopee, Riverdale Street (often referred to by locals as "Riverdale Road") in West Springfield, and Boston Road in Springfield are popular destinations for shopping.

Outlying towns such as Tolland are sparsely populated and close enough to the Berkshires that outdoor activities such as camping make up a large part of their economy.

Conservation

Appreciation of the natural environs is a big part of the Valley life, with numerous non-profit nature sanctuaries, as well as state and municipal parks and forests. Because of the considerable natural and cultural resources of the Pioneer Valley, state environmental agencies have made a substantial investment in protecting undeveloped land in the region, particularly along the Connecticut River, and in the mostly rural 'hilltowns' to its west. Government conservation efforts have targeted wildlife and rare plant habitat, recreational sites and corridors including the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, and the very rich agricultural soils in farming towns such as Hadley, Massachusetts. Their efforts have been augmented and assisted by local and regional conservation land trusts, and state-wide and national conservation organizations. Many of these organizations also protect additional land through direct ownership of conservation areas and land held under conservation easement. Many municipalities in the area also have conservation holdings, usually under the aegis of the community's 'conservation commission', the appointed body which also applies local and state environmental regulations, or held as part of local water supply systems.

One notable area consists of [http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/mtom.htm Mount Tom State Reservation] , [http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/hksp.htm Mount Holyoke Range State Park] , and [http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/skin.htm Skinner State Park] , which, joined with the 600-acre Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary held by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, form a long wildlife corridor stretching across the Connecticut River.

References

ee also

*Massachusetts geography
*Western Massachusetts
*Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation

External links

* [http://busacksblog.blogspot.com Busack's Blog (Pioneer in the Valley)]
* [http://www.chronos-historical.org/highway/index.html US-5: A Highway to History] (History of the Pioneer Valley)
* [http://www.valleyvisitor.com/ Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau]
* [http://www.pvpc.org/ Pioneer Valley Planning Commission]
* [http://www.ecommunityguide.com/ Pioneer Valley Guide]
* [http://www.granbyma.net/whattodoinpioneervalley.php What to Do in Pioneer Valley]


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