Today Belchertown perches atop a hill overlooking the Connecticut Valley to the west and the Quaboag Valley to the east, its church spires visible for miles in all directions. The famed Quabbin Reservoir and the University of Massachusetts draw thousands to and through the community annually.
It is hard to imagine this land under sea water, but such was the case millions of years ago. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, pushing New England out of the sea, created a region of high mountains resembling the Alps in Europe. Frost and water eventually eroded the peaks to a level plain. Later a great crack opened in the rock. Waters flowed into the crack toward the sea, and our Connecticut Valley was born. A series of volcanic eruptions formed Mt. Holyoke and Mt. Tom, and lava poured over the Valley. About 200 million years ago, giant dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles roamed freely in the Valley but left behind only their foot prints, now turned to stone.
Then a glacier covered the area. As the ice sheet slid southward and eventually melted, it left behind rich deposits of soil and an abundance of boulders and rocks. This glacial period ended only 15,000 years ago.
The first people in the area were Indians of the Nipmuck nation. While they roamed the Belchertown area freely to hunt and build temporary camps, their chief settlements were on the Connecticut River at Northampton, Hadley, Springfield and Deerfield. They built forts on either side of the river and trapped, hunted and grew corn and pumpkins. They were generally friendly to the white settlers. Even today farmers in this area occasionally turn up arrowheads and other Indian relics while plowing their fields.
The earliest settlers to this region came from the Massachusetts seacoast towns, and most were descendants of the early Pilgrim and Puritan colonists. They brought with them Yankee ingenuity, courage and all the strict religious and moral convictions of the older settlements.
Springfield, the first settlement in the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, was begun in 1636. Colonists, migrating from Springfield, and Wethersfield and Hartford, Connecticut, gradually moved into the surrounding area. During the French and Indian Wars, lasting until the mid 1700s, settlers had to remain in established settlements. Lone farms in the wilderness invited Indian attacks from over the Canadian border. Many of these early settlers were massacred or taken captive back to Canada and held for ransom.
|State||County||Manager Name ( if available)||Phone Number|
|WA||Chelan||Fred J. Hart||(509) 667-6603|
|WA||Kittitas||Jim Goeben||(509) 962-7510|