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A Rich History of Hard Work and Innovation

The towns of Franklin County, Massachusetts have a rich industrial history. From Shelburne Falls in the west, Greenfield at the center and Orange and Athol in the east, the county's factories and mills produced cutlery, hand tools, machine tools, measuring instruments, taps and dies, paper, textiles and numerous other products.

Franklin County and Athol Massachusetts are located in the most remote and least densely populated regions of Massachusetts. Yet the number of companies that were established here and the amount and diversity of products produced here is staggering. This region is geographically defined by one vast watershed with five major rivers terminating in Greenfield at the Connecticut River. It should be noted that industrial activity spread up the rivers along this watershed and although not in Franklin County the head waters of the Green River Valley are in southern Vermont and the mills there are linked to this history. This geographic feature powered hundreds of small to large water powered mills and is core to how and why industry developed here. The roots of virtually all american manufacturing sectors where precision metalworking was involved are here. Much of our industrial base has been lost but the heritage survives. We continue to discover more companies that existed here and some very old important established companies still thrive here and new companies emerge to carry on the heritage.

The museum’s mission is to celebrate our industrial heritage through preserving, collecting, and educating the public, with emphasis on our own neighborhood to tell a national story. At the heart of this story—are the people who created and lived this history, and how their work and lives can inform ours today.