Heritage State Park Master Plan
1990-1993  Turners Fall, Massachusetts

The birth of the American railroad system in 1830 ended the use of rivers and canals as a method of transportation. These long waterways were then viewed as a source of power. The Connecticut River flows from an 8000 square mile drainage basin that falls 25 feet at Turners Falls. In 1865 this site was purchased by John Alvah Crocker. He believed that it held the key to a yet untapped source of natural power. Crocker envisioned in the immense, power of the waterfalls the means of establishing a great city. He was influenced by other, earlier and successful experiments in Lowell and elsewhere. Crocker’s vision for Turners Falls was to attract industry to the town by offering cheap hydropower that was made possible by the harnessing of the Connecticut River, through the construction of a dam and canal.

In 1984, the State Department of Environmental Management commissioned a master planning study to create a State Heritage Park at this site. The remains of the power canals, carpenters shop, machine shop, hotel barn and surrounding landscape were studied as the setting for the park. The main site would provide a new town common, visitors center, exhibit area and river observatory. A new boating dock and restaurant north of the main site will allow a visitor to view the park from the water. The park is considered a destination for visitors exploring the Connecticut Valley from the North and South.

This master plan was among the State Heritage Parks that in 1990 received a Citation for Excellence in Urban Design from The American Institute of Architects.

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management


Dennis Gray Project Manager with the Firm of Gillen Kuhn Riddle and Gray