The original meaning of “Chicopee” is “place where water rushes.” In 1823, Jonathan Dwight purchased the water privilege at Skenungonuck Falls in Chicopee. Five years later, the textile mill had fourteen thousand spindles and nearly five hundred looms, making it the second-largest operation in Massachusetts. By 1831, there were two giant dams, two waterpower canals, and two manufacturing communities on the Chicopee River. During the next one-hundred years, eight Chicopee River companies gained product recognition around the globe: Ames, Belcher, Lamb, Dwight, Stevens, Spalding, Fisk, and Duryea. These vintage postcards illustrate the significant role that manufacturing played in the day-to-day life of this blue-collar community.
Author Bio: Author Stephen R. Jendrysik is the president of the Edward Bellamy Memorial Association and a longtime member of Chicopee Historical Commission. He retired in 2003, completing a forty-year career in the Chicopee public schools. Depending almost entirely on private postcard collections, this historian’s insightful comments capture the spirit of a community that works.
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