Buckland — Village of Shelburne Falls

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

      About half of this flourishing village is on the Buckland side, the two parts being connected by very fine iron bridge. In Buckland are the railway depot, the Methodist Church, Odd-Fellows' Hall, and the interests detailed below. There are about 1000 inhabitants.
      The village site was formerly embraced in the Coleman farms, and, aside from the Coleman house, but few buildings were erected before 1850; since then the growth has been steady, notwithstanding several fires have somewhat checked it. The most destructive of these occurred July 22, 1876, about eight o'clock in the evening, and before eleven had completely destroyed Anawansett Block, containing the town clerk's office, the Methodist Episcopal Church, Woodward's Hotel, and several dwelling-houses. It is said the reflected light from this fire could be seen twenty-eight miles.
      Anawansett Block was erected in 1853, of brick, 42 by 60 feet, and three stories high, and contained the first stores in the Buckland portion of Shelburne Falls. These were kept by L. M. Packard and Chase & Green. When burned, the Newell Bros. occupied it, and did a heavy business. This firm, A. W. Ward, and Andrew Sauer are the present merchants.
      On the site of Odd-Fellows' Hall a hotel was opened by Ambrose Kelley, and subsequently continued by Ariel, Abner, and Philip Woodward. The latter is still, the keeper of a public-liaise near his old stand.
      The principal interest in the place is the Lamson & Goodnow Manufacturing Company's cutlery establishment. This enterprise was inaugurated by Ebenezer G. and Nathaniel Lamson, sons of Silas Lamson, inventor of the bent scythe-snathe. About 1835 the Lamsons came to this place and began the manufacture of snathes on the east side of the river, and were long engaged in this branch of business, aggregating some years as many as 20,000 snathes. This work necessitated the employment of iron- and brass-working machinery, and, about 1842, the manufacture of cutlery was begun in this connection, the work being done after the manner of that day. At that time it was not thought possible for American artisans to produce anything in cutlery which would equal European products, and the demand for the work of this shop was so small that only 40 persons were employed.
      In 1844, A. F. Goodnow was associated with the Lamsons, the firm becoming Lamson, Goodnow & Co., and by the introduction of machinery, most of which was invented and manufactured by the firm, the establishment was enabled to produce work of uniformly good quality, at prices which allowed it to compete with foreign countries, where skillful labor was more abundant and less expensive. The firm has originated many devices in the cutlery business, making the application of machinery so general that this branch of manufacturing has been completely revolutionized, not only in this country, but in Europe.
      One of the most important was the invention, by J. W. Gardner, of their firm, of a machine for forging the bolster of knives and forks, so as to leave them in the required form and shape by the simple operation of the machine. This bolster permits the handles to be fastened so firmly that they cannot become loose, and the control of this valuable device has given the company great superiority in its manufactures. The establishment also claims excellence for the methods employed in getting an exact, evenly and uniformly finished blade, which is hardened by a process peculiarly its own. In every department of the work the most perfect mechanism and skillful supervision are employed to produce the most superior work. More than 500 styles of cutlery for table use, cook-, butcher-, hunting- and carving-knives are made, from the common to the most elaborate kinds, consuming annually in their manufacture 200 tons of steel, 1800 pounds of ivory, 150 tons of ebony, 300 tons of rosewood, 300 tons of cocoanut, 400 tons of coal, 100 tons of grindstones, 10 tons of emery, 5 tons of sheet brass and brass wire, and about 300,000 pieces of shin-bones.
      Until 1851 the establishment was carried on in the old snatheshops, which had been greatly enlarged, but the growth of the trade demanded larger facilities, and in that year the present works on the Buckland side were occupied. In 1864 the old buildings were burned.
      The shops are arranged in the form of a hollow square, and cover about 7 acres of ground. The main building is 45 by 208 feet, two stories high, and forms the north side of the square; on the east is the forging-shop, 45 by 128 feet, in which are 21 trip-hammers, 10 drop-handlers, and the heavy machinery used; opposite this, and joining at the west end of the main building, is the polishing-shop, 25 by 116 feet, containing two rows of polishers; and in front are a shop for hand-forging and blade-tempering, and a building containing store-rooms and well-appointed offices. The buildings are substantial, constructed of brick, and heated by steam. They accommodate at present about 300 workmen, but have capacity for several hundred more.
      The power of the works is furnished by a skillfully-constructed damn across the Deerfield Diver at the Falls, from four to fourteen-feet high, of massive thickness, and about 500 feet long. A raceway leads to three water-wheels, whose force combined is equal to 150 horse-power.
      Since October, 1855, the business has been carried on by the present incorporated stock company, whose only president has been E. D. Lamson. The first treasurer was A. F. Goodnow, and since 1866 this office has been held by F. A. Ball. The superintendents have been W. T. Clement, J. W. Gardner, and H. O. Smith, in the order named, the latter since 1876.
      Richmond & Merriam's Sash-and-Door Factory.—Before 1860, Murdock & Greene put up a planing-mill on the site of this factory, which became the property of Tobey & Richmond, who added saw-mill machinery. That building was burned in 1863, and the present one erected by Samuel Tobey, who, in addition to the former machinery, added a stone for grinding, but the whole was allowed to become idle in a few years.
      In 1868, J. A. Richmond & Co. purchased the property, and, with some changes in the firm-name, have since successfully operated it as a planing-mill and sash-and-door factory. The power is furnished by an 18-horse-power engine. The firm are also builders and lumber-dealers, and employ from 10 to 15 men.
      At the railroad station there is a small car-repair shop, and the usual mechanic-shops are also carried on, giving the place a busy appearance.

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01 Ju1 2005