Western Massachusetts is a region in Massachusetts , one of the six U. Western Massachusetts has diverse topography; 22 universities, with approximately , university students;  and such institutions as Tanglewoo the Springfield Armory , and Jacob's Pillow. The western part of Western Massachusetts includes the Berkshire Mountains , where there are several vacation resorts. The eastern part of the region includes the Connecticut River Valley , which has a number of university towns , the major city Springfiel and numerous agricultural hamlets. Archeological efforts in the Connecticut River Valley revealed traces of human life dating back at least 9, years. Pocumtuck tradition describes the creation of Lake Hitchcock in Deerfield by a giant beaver, possibly representing the action of a glacier that retracted at least 12, years ago.
The passage of the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act in ordered museums across Western Mass and the country to repatriate these remains to Native peoples, an ongoing process. The region was inhabited by several Algonkian-speaking Native American communities, culturally connected but distinguished by the place names they assigned to their respective communities: Agawam low lan Woronco in a circular wayNonotuck in the midst of the riverPocumtuck narrow, swift riverand Sokoki separated from their neighbors.
The modern-day Springfield metropolitan area was inhabited by the Agawam people. Ina plague, probably smallpoxreduced the Native American population of the Connecticut River Valley a tiny percentage of its previous size. Governor Bradford of Massachusetts writes that in Windsornotably the site of a trade post, where European diseases often spread to Native populations, "of 1, of [the Indians] of them died.
The first European explorers to reach Western Massachusetts were English Puritanswho inat the request of William Pynchon, settled the land that they considered most advantageous for both agriculture and trading - in modern Agawamadjacent to modern Metro CenterSpringfield. Ina group of English settlers-lured by the promise of a "great river" and the northeast's most fertile farmland-ventured to Springfield, where they established a permanent colony.
Originally, this settlement was called Agawam Plantationand administered by the Connecticut Colony.
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Springfield lies only 4 miles north of Connecticut; however, Agawam included lands as far south as Windsor Locksas far north as Holyokeand as far west as Westfield. The Massachusetts Bay Colony settled at the Connecticut River Valley's most fertile land - stretching from Windsor, Connecticutonce part of Springfield, to Northampton, Massachusetts - from to For the next several decades, Native people experienced a complex relationship with European settlers.
The fur trade stood at the heart of their economic interactions, a lucrative business that guided many other policy decisions. White settlers traded wampum, cloth and metal in exchange for furs, as well as horticultural produce.
Because of the seasonal nature of goods provided by Native people, compared with the constant availability of English ones, a credit system developed. Land, the natural resource whose availability did not fluctuate, served as collateral for mortgages in which Native people bought English goods in exchange for the future promise of beavers. However, trade with the English made pelts so lucrative that the beaver was rapidly overhunted. The volume of the trade fell, from a high of pelts to a mere ten years later.
With every mortgage, Native people lost more land, although their population recovered and expanded from the old plague.
These sites were excavated in the 19th and 20th centuries by anthropologists who took cultural objects and human remains and displayed them for years in area museums. Some individuals became deeply enmeshed in colonial life, even becoming employed by white households.
However, there was a simultaneous effort by the English to enforce social division, including bans on interracial marriage, English habitation among Indians, and Native presence in English towns during nighttime hours.
Inthe leader of the Eastern Massachusetts Wampanoag Indian tribe, Wamsuttadied shortly after being questioned at gunpoint by Plymouth colonists. This came after years of English settlers encroaching upon Native land and decimating the native population with European diseases.
Wamsutta's brother, Chief Metacomet known to inhabitants of Springfield as "Philip," began a struggle against the English known as " King Philip's War " which spread across the region.
Unwilling to relinquish their weapons, they left on the night of August A hundred English soldiers pursued them, catching up to them at the foot of Sugarloaf Hill, which was a sacred space for the Nonotucks called the Great Beaver. The English attacked, but the Nonotucks forced them to withdraw and were able to keep moving.
Following the war, the greater part of the Native American population left Western Massachusetts behind. Native American influence remains evident in the land and culture of Western Massachusetts, from the practice of tobacco farming to the names of cities and rivers .
Built atop a high bluff overlooking the Connecticut River, Washington and Knox agreed that Springfield provided an ideal location-beside a great river and at the confluence of major rivers and highways.
For the following years, the Springfield Armory would bring concentrated prosperity and innovation to Springfield and its surrounding towns. The Berkshires have long been patronized by artists e.
The city of Pittsfield is the largest community located in the Berkshires. New England's largest river, the Connecticutflows through the center of its agricultural valley.
Nearly bisected by the American east coast's only east-west mountain ranges the Holyoke Range and the Mount Tom Rangethis relatively small area contains a number of college towns, urban environments, and rural hamlets.
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The portion of this valley in Massachusetts is also commonly referred to as the Pioneer Valley. At its southern tip, the Springfield-Hartford region is home to 29 universities and overuniversity students-the United States' second highest concentration of higher learning institutions after the Boston metropolitan area.
Innovations originating in the valley include the sports of basketball James Naismithand volleyball William Morgan; the first American automobile Duryea; the first motorcycle company Indian; the first use of interchangeable parts in manufacturing Thomas Blanchar ; and the first commercial radio station, WBZ, from Springfield's Kimball Hotel.
The Hilltowns include the areas of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden Counties west of and above the escarpment bordering the ancient rift valley through which the Connecticut River flows. Elevations increase from about feet 60 meters to at least 1, feet in the escarpment zone. On top, elevations rise gradually to the west. Generally, the Hilltowns west of the Connecticut River Valley were less attractive for agricultural uses, which resulted in later migration there than, for example, the fertile Connecticut River Valley.
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Subsistence farming predominated in this area. Mills were built to exploit the kinetic energy of falling water and mill towns grew up around them, or company towns integrating production, residential and commercial activities. The development of steam engines to free industrialization from reliance on water power brought about the so-called Second Industrial Revolution when railroads were built along the rivers to take advantage of relatively gentle grades over the Appalachians.
And so as hilltop farming towns declined in importance, industrial towns in the river valleys rose to local prominence.
In northern Massachusetts, the higher altitude area to the east of the Connecticut River Valley is known as the North Quabbin region. Numerous other towns stretching east towards Worcester are sometimes included in the Quaboag Valley region. Geology is similar to the Hilltown-Berkshire uplands with resistant metamorphic rocks overlain by thin and rocky soil.
With less relief, the river valleys are less pronounced, but still moderately high gradient. The mountain range in Berkshire County at the western end of Massachusetts is conventionally known as the "Berkshires".
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Geologically, however, the Berkshires are a westward continuation of uplands west of the Connecticut River and a southern extension of Vermont's Green Mountains. The Hilltown-Berkshire upland ends at the valley of the Housatonic River which flows south to Long Island Sound, and in the extreme north west of Massachusetts at the Hoosic Rivera tributary of the Hudson.
From these valleys, uplands to the east appear as a rounded mountain range, rising some 1, feet meters although they are actually a plateau. Most of this region is a rolling upland of schistgneiss and other resistant metamorphics with intrusions of pegmatite and granite.
Scraping by continental glaciers during the Pleistocene left thin, rocky soil that supported hardscrabble subsistence farming before the Industrial Revolution. There was hardly a land rush into such marginal land, but the uplands were slowly settled by farmers throughout most of the 18th century and organized into townships.
The hilltown agricultural population went into a long decline and fields began reverting to forest.
The Connecticut River Valley is an ancient downfaulted graben or rift valley that formed during the Mesozoic Era when rifting developed in the Pangaea supercontinent to separate North America from Europe and South America from Africa.
Secondary rifts branched off the main crustal fracture, and this one was eventually occupied by the Connecticut River. The Metacomet Ridge is a series of narrow traprock ridges where lava penetrated this rift zone, beginning at the northern end of the graben near Greenfield and extending south across Massachusetts and Connecticut to Long Island Sound.
Fossil dinosaur footprints in Holyoke attest to the life present in this region during the Mesozoic. Accumulation of fine sediments during the era of Lake Hitchcock accounts for this region's exceptionally rich agricultural soil, which attracted settlers as early as Although the Connecticut River Valley's soil is the richest in New England, many of its fields have been covered by urban and suburban development.
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Regardless, the valley remains New England 's most productive farmland. Tobacco, tomatoes, sweet corn, and other vegetables are still produced there in commercial quantities. Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties, in the year collectively ha residents, a population greater than that of any one of the six smallest U.
The population amounted to approximately Western Massachusetts' population is concentrated in the cities and suburbs along the Connecticut River in an urban axis surrounding Springfield that is contiguous with greater Hartford, Connecticut i. A secondary population concentration exists in the Housatonic-Hoosic valley due to the industrial heritage of Pittsfield and North Adams, and the development of tourism throughout that valley.
This far-western zone is linked to New York City and Albany, New York more than with the rest of Massachusetts, however both populated zones are ultimately part of the Northeast megalopolis. The rest of Western Massachusetts is lightly populated, particularly the Hilltowns where densities below 50 persons per square mile 20 per km 2 are the rule.
Western Massachusetts has been compared as a microcosm of the rest of the United States. Building off of that project, the Commonwealth launched a 'Last Mile' initiative targeting 54 communities that were unserved or under-served by broadband. That program has invested in municipal fiber-to-the-home networks,  which are also supported by municipal bonds; private provider projects;  and advanced wireless projects  to connect homes and businesses in these communities.
Small, rural towns such as Mount Washington, Mass. The decline of manufacturing as the region's economic engine since World War II-and in particular, since the controversial closing of the Springfield Armory -was counterbalanced in Western Massachusetts by growth in post-secondary education and healthcare.
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This created new jobs, land development, and had gentrifying effects in many college towns. He had previously worked in a Nagoya-region instrument factory, but when it was decimated by a typhoon, he ran to the hills to do his own thing.
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