Norwottuck Rail Trail
Norwottuck Rail Trail
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Located in the Connecticut River Greenway State Park, the 10-mile Norwottuck Rail Trail traces a former railroad right-of-way through the towns of Northampton, Hadley, and Amherst. The trail is one of two paved rail trails within the Massachusetts State Forests and Parks system. A gentle grade and smooth surface make the trail ideal for cyclists, skaters, walkers, runners, and even cross-country skiers of all ages and abilities.
The railroad that paved the way for this famous trail was built in 1887 by the Central Massachusetts Railroad Company. It connected the cities of Boston and Northampton and was referred to as the Central Massachusetts Branch. By the 1920's, the line sported three round-trip passenger trains and numerous freight trains.
As automobiles became more common and the trucking industry grew, the railroads began to slip into the pages of yesteryear Passenger service on The Ranch continued until 1932, and freight service continued until 1979. The Department of Environmental Management acquired the railroad in 1985, and in 1993, turned it into a recreational trail.
The Hadley Historical Commission named the new rail trail Norwottuck in deference to the Norwottuck Indians, who were thought to have lived in the area prior to the first European settlers. Native Americans referred to the entire area as Norwottuck, which translates in English to mean "in the midst of the river."
For more information on the Norwottuck Rail Trail and to receive a pamphlet detailing the various sites along the trail, ....Call (413) 586-8706.
Cycle and skate rentals for the trail are available in Northampton on Damon Road across from the Elwell Recreation Area. There also are a limited number of hand-cycles available for the handicapped. For more information on rentals, Call (413) 545-5353.
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