Industry of the Past & Natural History Explored this Weekend

History of Logging & Hawley Bog
Pioneer Valley Institute Features Local Industry & Natural History Events This Weekend

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Western Massachusetts is rich with both local and natural history – both of which are topics that Greenfield Community College’s Pioneer Valley Institute highlights in its educational programs. Blending topics like geology and natural biodiversity with the study of local agriculture, industry, and culture, the Pioneer Valley Institute offers intriguing programs that allow community members to explore their surroundings while also learning about their natural and cultural significance.

This weekend, the Pioneer Valley Institute offers families a chance to learn about the history of an important local industry, and the settlement of a once bustling tiny hilltown. On Saturday, April 26th, families can attend “A History of Logging Tools in Our Valley” at the Shutesbury Town Hall. Historian Harry Proudy and local logger Steve Puffer will teach families with older children about the logging industry between 1920 and 1950, focusing in particular on the tools used during that time period. Included in the presentation will be a short video clip of loggers utilizing the tools discussed, and Proudy will share his own experiences with the tools. Additionally, families will be lead on a guided hike of a section of the Paul C. Jones working forest, a conserved section of forested land, in order to add an experiential element to the learning taking place during the event. 

The logging event will take place from 10am-2:30pm, and is a free event for participants under the age of 13. $5 charge for all others.  Families should bring their own bag lunches to enjoy before the forest exploration, and should dress appropriately for the weather (including suitable footwear – there may be some spring mud in the woods).

In addition to teaching about the logging industry, the Pioneer Valley Institute also offers families an opportunity to learn about the natural history and cultural heritage of the town of Hawley on Sunday, April 27th and the fascinating Hawley Bog. “Discovering Hawley History & Its Natural Surroundings” is a guided walking tour, lead by local geologist Ed Gregory. From 12noon-4pm, families will be able to enjoy exploration and interpretation of a charcoal kiln (built in 1870!) and the Old Hawley Town Common, which dates back to 1798 and was once home to a church, a tavern, and a few dwellings. The second portion of the hike will take families across 700 feet of boardwalk in the Hawley Bog for observation of some local flora and (perhaps) fauna.

In order to participate in the tour of Hawley, families should meet in Parking Lot A at Greenfield Community College and will carpool to the tour location. All participants over the age of 13 must pay $5 in order to join in the exploration.  PVI members and kids under 13yr are free.

Attending either of PVI’s events this weekend will offer students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the place where they live. Information about local history can help to provide context for what students have learned (or will learn) about American history as a whole, and can help them to piece together the development of their own community. Additionally, exploration of the local landscape provides ample opportunity to learn about geology, wetland ecology, forestry, biodiversity, and our changing landscape. For more information about either event, contact pvi@gcc.mass.edu.

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