10 Towns in 10 Days: Shelburne Falls - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

10 Towns in 10 Days: Shelburne Falls

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

Tucked between some hills and along the Deerfield River, Shelburne Falls is a cultural and tourist hub for western Franklin County.

Like any mill town, it has undergone some changes, but the village remains as vibrant as ever. 

In Shelburne Falls, you won't find any big box stores.  Instead, you'll find a local grocery store, a local pharmacy, and numerous other small businesses to make the village what it is.

Molly Cantor is local potter who has called Shelburne Falls home for the last 20 years.

"As a local business owner, I know we all need to support each other to keep going," Cantor said.

Cantor uses a unique style in her work. 

"I have a special technique called scraffito, which is to scratch.  All of my pottery has illustrations of animals, plants, New England life.  A surprising number of local people really support the arts.  I guess it's not that surprising.  People who choose to live in beautiful places have an appreciation for beauty," Cantor noted.

It's hard not to fall in love with the beauty. 

Glacial potholes below the falls remind visitors of the geological past, while a bit further up river, the iconic Bridge of Flowers spans the river.

"The Bridge of Flowers really started as a trolley bridge back in 1907.  By 1929, roads and trucking improved and they close that.  There was talk of demolishing it.  The women's club of the town at the time stepped forward and said let's beautify it and turn it into a flower garden," said Andrew Baker, chair of the Shelburne Board of Selectman.

Now, the bridge welcomes over 100,000 tourists each year from over 150 countries. 

"The Bridge of Flowers is not just a signature piece for Shelburne Falls, but for all of western Massachusetts.  When you to see how Western Mass News portrayed, even in the Springfield visitor center, the Bridge of Flowers is one of the landmarks.  We've been fortunate to have that feature right here in our community," Baker added. 

Baker is encouraged future generations will keep the village as it is.

"I'm optimistic that there will be a new crop of young people who will come here and see the opportunity and really want to live in the community and keep it alive," Baker said.

One group dedicated to helping area young people is the Mary Lyon Foundation.  Named for the creator of Mount Holyoke College, the charity has two main missions - to provide support to staff and assist kids going to school.

"The premise of the student assistance is students can't learn if they come to school hungry or cold or neglected," said Sheila Damkoehler, co-executive director of the Mary Lyon Foundation.

The Mary Lyon Foundation works hard for students who need it the most. 

"There is a lot of rural poverty and you don't see it.  You drive through the villages and they look like New England postcards, but there is a lot of hidden poverty," Damkoehler noted.

Western Mass News wanted to help, so along with our friends at Diamond RV and Big Y, we presented the foundation with a check for $500 to continue the good that they are doing in the community.

"I know it'll go a long way to help some students and teachers.  Wow, I'm speechless.  That's wonderful and unbelievable, generous, and surprising.  Thank you so much...that will really make a difference," Damkoehler added. 

Shelburne Falls - a postcard perfect look at New England. 

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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