The Recorder – The Black Friday hike offers the opportunity to connect with the outdoors, the history of the region

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Posted: 11/26/2021 16:57:28 PM

Modified: 11/26/2021 16:57:12

TURNERS FALLS – A small group braved the cold temperatures and rainy weather on the Canalside Rail Trail on Friday afternoon to shed Thanksgiving calories and learn about the area’s industrial and ecological history as part of the state “Go Green on Black Friday” programming.

Beginning at the Great Falls Discovery Center, the tour was led by Visitor Services Supervisor Janel Nockleby and took the group on a roughly 2 mile hike along the Connecticut River.

“I loved the bravery of the people coming in in the rain, although it wasn’t that bad,” Nockleby said after the hike. “It’s really great to be outside and talk to people.”

As the group traveled along the Connecticut River, Nockleby explained the history of the town’s paper mills and how the river was “an incredible source of water” that was essential to mill production during the Industrial Revolution. swept through Franklin County.

“The power of the water flowing through mills and machinery,” said Nockelby, “could really be used to do anything.”

She added that the hydroelectric dams crossed by the river generate enough electricity to “power about 85% of the homes in Franklin County.”

As the group neared the turning point about a mile and a half into the hike, Nockelby stopped the group and asked participants to watch the river and the birds swimming on it. She said the river is home to a significant amount of bird species and pointed out that the bald eagle – a federally endangered bird on the brink of extinction until 1995 – was her favorite bird to see living in the area.

“I love the story of the return of the American bald eagle,” Nockelby said. “This story is so sweet.”

Among the small group of people walking were the Marroney family of Wayland. Phil and Janet Marroney were heading to Franklin County to shop for Black Friday with their daughter at Yankee Candle, but only on the condition that they stop at a state park along the way.

“We saw they were walking around here,” Phil Marroney said. “I think it was a good compromise.”

Although the family has been to Franklin County before, they said the hike was a great opportunity to exercise while learning more about Turners Falls. Janet Marroney added that Nockelby was a “great guide” and that she was glad the constant rain wasn’t too heavy.

“Just to have a good walk,” Phil Marroney said, “and to learn more about the story we didn’t know before.”

“Go Green on Black Friday” is an initiative by the Baker-Polito administration to expand outdoor recreation opportunities for families across the state. On Friday, guided tours were organized by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to several state parks.

“The Commonwealth offers an incredible diversity of natural, cultural and recreational resources,” DCR Acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper said in a press release, “and the annual Go Green on Black Friday hikes provide excellent opportunity to get out and explore the great outdoors with friends and family.

Nockelby said the “Go Green on Black Friday” program is similar to the Great Falls Discovery Center’s long-standing tradition of the “first day hike,” which is a hike held every January 1 to celebrate the New Year. Despite their similarities, Nockelby said the Black Friday event is more intimate and provides more opportunities for hikers to ask questions.

“You’ll find me here on January 1,” Nockelby joked. “(The Black Friday hike), however, is more likely to dig into what we see.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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