Forbes Library is honored to present the premiere screening of The Mill River, a documentary film by Stan Sherer (2023, 43 minutes, color & b/w). The highly regarded Northampton filmmaker, photographer and local historian will share his new film, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.
The Mill River winds down the hills of western Massachusetts and into the Connecticut River just south of Northampton. Though only 13.5 miles long, it has played an outsized role in the economic, cultural, and recreational history of this region.
Native inhabitants and, later, European settlers diverted the river to irrigate their crops, graze their cattle, and turn their mills. But it also flooded their lands and villages, and–-thanks to the mills–-polluted them. By the mid-1800s, the river powered more than 70 mills, but a dam disaster in 1874 wiped nearly all of them out. After the great flood of 1936, the river was re-routed out of downtown Northampton. Today, cleaned of pollutants, it is a popular destination for swimmers, kayakers, canoers, hikers, and dog walkers.
“The Mill River” follows the river as it flows through the region and through history into today.
Stan Sherer: Filmmaker, photographer, author, and local historian
Gaby Immerman: Biology faculty and the experiential learning specialist at the Botanic Garden of Smith College.
John Sinton: Historian and author of Devil’s Den to Lickingwater: The Mill River Through Landscape and History
Sinton and Immerman assisted on research for the film and are founding members of the Mill River Greenway Initiative, now Friends of the Mill River Greenway, under the fiscal umbrella of Friends of Northampton Trails.