Ashfield — Natural Features
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
The town is well watered, though possessing no great water-power. The principal streams are Bear River, in the north east part of the town, which flows northeasterly through Conway into Deerfield River; South River, which takes its rise in Great Pond, near the "Plains," and, flowing first south and then east, is a prominent tributary to the same river; and Swift River, in the western part of the town, which flows south into Hampshire County and Westfield River. All of these streams have been utilized to a greater or less extent for small manufacturing enterprises. A large number of brooks traverse the different sections of the town. The principal pond is "Great Pond," nearly in the geographical centre of the town. It has, by an embankment twelve feet high, been made into a reservoir.
The town occupies an elevation of about 1200 feet high above tide-water. The highest part in it is Peter's Hill, situated a little northwest of the centre, and which is 1740 feet above tide-water. Numerous other hills exist in the town. Mention may be made of Pumpkin Hill, near the northern boundary; Ridge Hill, about a mile and a half east; Mount Owen, in the eastern part of the town; Mill Hill, about a mile north-east of Ashfield Plains; and Brier Hill, in the southeast section.
The surface of the town is broken into hills and valleys, and contains but a comparatively small portion of arable land. Indian corn succeeds well, but English grain is of secondary quality. Wheat is seldom sown. Grazing may be said to be a principal object with the farming interest. The town has many fine dairies, and holds high rank as a butter-making country. Many tons of the finest wool are annually furnished to the manufactories. Agriculture is the leading interest. The soil is of that hard and rocky nature which is generally found on the slopes and plains and in the valleys of the Hoosac Mountains. The farms in general are well cultivated. Wool, lambs, neat stock, horses, butter, cheese, and maple-sugar are the chief articles of export, the latter being taken from the trees of that variety with which the town abounds. Corn and oats are rarely raised beyond individual wants. Potatoes, to some extent, are an article of commerce, and are usually of good quality.
The summers are cool and enjoyable, and attract many visitors The snow usually lasts from the 1st of December to the 1st of April and the public roads are frequently almost impassable. The prevailing disease with the middle-aged may be said to be the consumption, probably because of the variable winters. Many, however, live to advanced ages in the town.
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29 Jun 2005