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Hidden Walls, Hidden Mills: Reading the lost industrial landscape of the Western Mass hills

Thursday December 17, 2020 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Get ready for a history adventure! In a mixed video and slide show presentation focusing on Plainfield and Leverett, historian Pleun Bouricius will explore how to “read” the forested landscape, find cellar holes, understand mill sites, and learn how water mills were situated and worked.
In the first decades of the nineteenth century, Western Massachusetts was largely shorn of trees; trees shaped and cut in hundreds of mills that took advantage of fast-moving streams on steep hillsides. Out-competed and passed by during the nineteenth century, this industry left an indelible imprint on the land.
Now largely forested, the landscape is dotted with few farms and some houses — and any number of publicly accessible woods. Everywhere are stone sites, ready for a passer-by trying to imagine lives lived on a bare windswept hillside or next to a stream ready to sweep away a mill building in the next freshet.

Pleun Bouricius is the principal of Swift River Press: Public History and Communications. She is the author of the photoblog AgathaO.comBeech: the Fall and Rise of a Forest (2019);  The Bog (2017); and the collaborative project Hidden Walls, Hidden Mills, a series of history/ecology adventures in Plainfield, MA.

Pleun is founding president of the Massachusetts History Alliance and curator of the Plainfield Historical Society. Previously, she was Director of Grants and Programs at Mass Humanities. She has been a carpenter since 2003. Before that, she drove a Freightliner Classic and American taught history and literature at Harvard University. She holds a BA in history, women’s studies, and photography from Montclair State College, New Jersey, and a PhD in the American Studies from Harvard University.

Pleun was born and raised in Scheveningen, The Netherlands, and lives in Plainfield, Massachusetts on a forested hillside with a mile of stone walls and a bog.

Stone wall in the forest

To Register for this Program: Please register below for the link to this live lecture, hosted on Zoom. You must have a free Zoom account to attend. Instructions on accessing the lecture will be included in your confirmation email.

This program is funded by a Community Development Block Grant. The demographic information collected in this registration form will be used only to help us report back regarding our community impact and for no other purpose. Additional support has been provided through NEH CARES Act funding granted by Mass Humanities.

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