TURNERS FALLS, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- We're on the road once again and beginning our journey of 10 Towns in 10 Days.

We're learning the best about these towns, the people, the community, and the businesses and while we're there, we're donating $500 to a local charity in that town.

Like many industrial towns right along the water, Turners Falls uses its natural and man made beauty to attract visitors to the area.

Our first stop in this season of 10 Towns in 10 Days visits Turners Falls and Montague.

The town of Montague is made up of five separate and distinct villages - each having their own unique way of life.

Turners Falls, comprising over half of the town of Montague's population, is sometimes used synonymously with Montague.

Downtown Turners Falls is the main economic hub for the town and many businesses are thriving.

The Colle Opera House owns the distinction of the most historic building in town. The grand opening in 1874 was such a big deal that the local Gazette and Courier wrote "an extra train from Greenfield" brought a large party.

Now, the nearby Shea Theater Arts Center has taken the crown as the venue for the arts. Boasting 330 seats, the Shea Theater has a full list of performances.

Down the road, the Great Falls Discovery Center takes visitors on a trip through the Connecticut River Valley.

"We have a lot going on here. We have incredible habitat dioramas. We celebrate the natural history, cultural history, and industrial history of the entire Connecticut River watershed," said Janel Nockleby with Great Falls Discovery Center.

From bald eagles, to a moose, to the bobcats and beavers, many animals are displayed in what their natural habitat would look like.

"We are a free state park, which is perfect for families. The major premise of the museum is we share our home with our wildlife neighbors," Nockleby added.

Outside the discovery center winds the Canalside Bike Trail. Though the path is short, totaling just under four miles, the views are scenic.

In fact, in 2010, Yankee Magazine voted this as the best urban bike path in New England.

Down the road in Montague City, Susan Shilliday has owned the Montague Bookmill for the last 11 years - a move she called spur of the moment.

"It was the craziest thing I'd ever done. I just knew it was the right thing. I haven't regretted it for a moment. It's been so much fun," Shilliday explained.

The book mill is just one of a few business in the old Alvastone mill, built in 1834.

"We are lucky because the other businesses around us - the café, the restaurant, saw mills arts collective - they make it a destination, a place where everyone is going to find something here," Shilliday explained.

The one of a kind bookstore is only rivaled to the natural beauty outside its doors.

"The beauty of this area is extraordinary.  It's quiet, it's subtle.  They aren't grand landscapes, but they are landscapes that speak very deeply to me and to a lot of people.  Every season is beautiful.  The river outside the windows when it ices over the window in crazy shapes...the falls freeze.  It's magnificent," Shilliday noted.

For more information on the places we visited:

Tomorrow, for day 2 of 10 Towns in 10 Days, we head to Chester as we broadcast live at noon from the Chester Common Table and donate to a very special charity in town. Hope to see you all there!

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

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