Former Mayor Forgey weighs in against dam removal

Former mayor of Greenfield, Christine Forgey, wrote a piece in the Greenfield Recorder recommending that the dam be saved.  Some of the notable points that she made were:

  • “…At the time, an agreement was reached to demolish two dams on the Green River, there was little discussion about the history of either dam. A report was issued in 1998 by the Army Corps of Engineers stating that the Wiley-Russell dam, in particular, posed a “significant” hazard.”
  • “… More recently, I was alerted to a newer study, by the respected engineering firm of Fuss and O’Neill, which strongly recommends that the Wiley-Russell dam be reclassified as a “Class III Low Hazard” dam. That 2005 study was substantiated in 2008 by an updated report with the same “Low Hazard” recommendation.”
  • “… A “low hazard” designation presumes NO loss of life, little loss of property and only the slimmest chance of road or infrastructure damage.”
  • “…”The removal of the Wiley-Russell dam will NOT restore the river to the way it was in the late 1600s and early 1700s because the other dams on the Green River will NOT be removed. The other three dams help to supply our drinking water, provide recreation at the swimming pool and protect town infrastructure that runs in the area of the Mill Street Dam.
  • “… As Greenfield works on plans to create a walkway/bikeway along the Green River, running from the Mohawk Trail to Deerfield Street, it now seems ill advised to demolish the historic gem that gave the river and the town substantial prominence in the American Industrial Revolution. Coupled with the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage, the Wiley-Russell dam has great potential to increase industrial tourism and, thus, business potential for the entire town.”

Read the whole article here –>  Greenfield Recorder, Forgey/My Turn: Dam removal revisited, Monday, May 5, 2014

Mud Day, March 22nd celebration.



The Museum of Our Industrial Heritage will host a Mud Season Day of Dance on Saturday March 22. Free entertainment at 2pm features two teams of Molly Dancers on hand to welcome Spring and bring good luck to the museum for its 2014 season. Molly dancing is a form of English Morris Dance traditionally practiced by out of work ploughboys in midwinter, and now by “factory”lads”– including some dressed in women’s clothing (hence the name “Molly”). The local “Green River Tap & Die” team has invited “Handsome Molly” from Princeton NJ to help celebrate the end of winter with music, song and dance. All are welcome.

The Museum at 2 Mead STreet in Greenfield is free and open to the public on Saturday March 22, 1-4pm and by appointment at other times. Call 413-336-8275 for more information.

Wing Racing Car Returns Home

December 2013     Greenfield Massachusetts

This Wing Special midget racing car recently returned home to the factory where it was built in 1922. Between twenty and thirty of these cars were built at the Chauncey Wing Machine Company on Pierce Street, and until this one showed up on Ebay we did not know if any had survived. This particular car—powered by a Henderson 4CXly motorcycle engine and reported to reach 85 MPH—has until recently been in California where it was raced and had connections to the Hollywood movie industry. Although the museum would like to have this car for our collection, the asking price is out of our reach at this time. The person selling that car, who lives in Connecticut, recently offered to bring it home, and a lucky group of enthusiasts were treated to a rare viewing.

Dean Beckman of Connecticut Classix, a broker of rare racing autos who trailered the car here, was equally impressed that the original Wing factory still exists and is still in operation making one of its original products, “The Wing Mailer,” a device to apply mailing labels that was first marketed in the 1890’s. The Wing family pioneered early automobile manufacturing, making parts and patterns for other makes as well as producing a short run of these cars, which are considered one of America’s first sports cars.

Given the historic value of this car and the possibility that resources still exist at the factory to remake parts, and since the asking price has not been met, Beckman told us he would urge the owner not to sell the car. There is a tentative plan to have the car return in the spring for a more thorough examination and a search for any patterns that may still exist, in hopes of manufacturing replacement parts for the car.

Stay tuned.

Jim Terapane, President


Free Admission To The Museum


What will our 2014 season be like?   

In addition to opening the museum’s regular exhibits, at 3 pm on Sunday we will be serving light refreshments and discussing  directions for the future.

What can MOIH do to link the past, present and future of Franklin County? 

Our goal is to begin a process of raising awareness of our living industrial heritage, even in months when the museum is closed. Please join us to discuss how we can accomplish this goal.

Looking at the loom

Sunday is the last chance to see the model 1804 Jacquard loom on loan from Smith College and our 2013 exhibit on the textile mills of Conway. Our permanent exhibit  Industry and Innovation: Franklin County’s Unique History can be viewed by appointment until the museum opens again in the spring. Call or email to set up an appointment.

Summer Celebration 2013


A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped make our SUMMER CELEBRATION a success! At this FREE 2nd annual event, local bands Bright Lines, Pale Cowboy, and Daniel hales, and the frost heaves entertained in the shade of the big tent while visitors conducted electrical experiments with retired teacher Jim Klaiber and experienced the heat of the forge as Iron Johnny hammered out nails–and much more!


Greenfield Historical Commission’s Terry Ruggles showed visitors maps of the future greenway along the Green River and collected signatures in support of saving the historic Wiley & Russell dam. Inside the museum visitors threaded screws in the workshop and took in the exhibit gallery overlooking the Mead Street dam, with its tools and photographs illustrating Franklin County’s unique industrial heritage.



This program was supported in part by a grant from the following Cultural Councils, local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency: Bernardston, Buckland, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Greenfield, Leyden, Montague, Orange, Shelburne, Shutesbury, and Wendell. We are very grateful for their generous support!

Soup and Games Night

Hope and Olive

A huge “Thank You!” to all who made our Soup & Game Night this spring a big success: the restaurants who donated the soup and bread, the raffle prize donors, bakers, Jim & Maggie at Hope & Olive and their staff, and all the people in the community who made such generous donations—making it possible  to open the museum on summer weekends again this year.


Recap of our 2012 Season

Here are some photos taken during the 2012 season:

Dam Nice ViewA dam nice view! This years expansion of the exhibit space provides a spectacular view of the historic and sometimes menacing Green River in our backyard.

The new expanded exhibit space created a gathering place for community groups to meet.

This is the Western Mass chapter of the Solid Works User Group. Solid Works is a computer based engineering software. The group meets periodically to share what they know and learn new features.

In addition to being open Saturdays and Sundays we had a wonderfully well-attended open house in August, our “Summer Celebration.” When the blue skies turned into thunderstorms the action moved inside and with our new space we had room for everyone to spend time exploring the exhibits and the hands-on  activities in the exhibit area and workshop. We’re planning more great events for next year

Iron Johnny had the forge fired up and we had scouts helping kids make toolboxes.

A great band, Brightlines, kept things lively until blue skies turned into thunderstorms.


2012 was the year we finally secured a prime spot at the Franklin County Fair and despite challenging weather conditions hundreds of new people became acquainted with the museum and it’s mission.

2012 was also the first year for the Hilltowns History Conference held in Colrain, which the Museum participated in.

Museum Reopens for 2012 Season Saturdays and Sundays 1 – 4 pm

On June 23rd the Museum reopened with a new larger space overlooking the Green River and expanded exhibits highlighting the early industries of Franklin County’s small flag

A large 1858 Franklin County wall map and accompanying references pinpoint all types of mills and small businesses in existence during that era.  Want to know what people were making in your town in 1858?  Look on the map for color coded dots telling you what happened there.

Some of the first tools manufactured in Franklin County are displayed, along with precision tools made by small companies. Another part of thenew exhibit offers hands-on activities demonstrating  some of these early manufacturing processes.

Does your family have an industrial  story to share?  We’d like to hear it!  Come in and share your family history and learn how other people contributed to our local and national industries.

The Museum of Our Industrial Heritage is making history fun for people of all ages!