Long before the fish ladder, or even the Turners Falls – Gill bridge (which today connects Avenue ‘A’ with Route 2 in Gill), there was Montague Paper. Montague Paper, along with the John Russell Cutlery were the first two industries to begin operating in the new hydro power industrial community of Turners Falls.
A short version of this story is that Alvah Crocker (from Fitchburg) and his team first noticed the falls and canal as they were involved in the construction and rail route which would become the Hoosac Tunnel. The old barge canal company was purchased and was formed to become the Turners Falls Company after 1868. The Russell Cutlery construction began in 1868, followed by the paper company in 1871, beside the dam. As other mills eventually were added, the canal was deepened and extended to provide power as needed.
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The picture above is a spectacular view of the circa 1888 mill, provided by Peter Miller. Notice the tenement buildings to the left in the background. They were built for the Montague Paper Co. employees and were located on 1st Street in the lot from Avenue “A” to “L” Street where presently the Shady Glen restaurant resides.View this with our Deep Zoom viewer in our database.
This version of the site includes property of the former Turners Falls Machine Co. (later (1908) the Montague Machine Co.) on the south side of the canal. Buildings #21 & blacksmith shop and #26 of T.F.M. Co. still stand in 2020 as part of the Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation; Discovery Center facility. This Associated Mutual Insurance map provides valuable detail, describing the building construction and layout of the various operations conducted in the buildings.