Salisbury, Connecticut Area Historic Activities

Iron Masters Conference hosted by SIA New England Chapters

Tri-Corners History Council
Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area
Statement of Support


Iron Masters Conference


Salisbury Iron District
Salisbury, CT


From Society for Industrial Archeology - New England Chapters newsletter Volume 18, Number 1, 1998, page 4


1998 Ironmasters Conference to be held in the Salisbury, CT, Iron District


The 1998 Ironmasters Conference will be held May 16-17 in the Salisbury Iron District of Northwestern Connecticut.  The Ironmasters Conferences are an annual series of SIA-affiliated events devoted to the archeology, history, and technology of the American iron industry.  This year's conference will be the first held in New England.  The focus of the conference will be on the rich heritage of Salisbury District ironmaking which dates from 1735 to 1923.  A day of papers is planned for Saturday, including a morning symposium devoted to the Salisbury District and other Connecticut ironmaking sites, and an open afternoon session on general historic U.S. iron-related topics.  A tour of several historic iron industry sites in Northwestern Connecticut and adjacent areas of Massachusetts and New York is planned for Sunday.  If you would like to be placed on the information mailing list for this conference and other Ironmasters events, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:  Matthew Kierstead, 22 Rosewood Street #3F, Pawtucket, RI  02860.  If you would like to present a paper on a historic ironmaking topic at this conference, please include a paper title, abstract, and biography with your conference information request.





Tri-Corners History Council

September, 1999

Re:  Proposed Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area

Dear Friends:

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to obtain official designation as a "National Heritage Area" here in the Housatonic Valley. You probably are aware of the Ouinebaug and Shetucket River Valley National Heritage Corridor in eastern Connecticut (now being extended into Massachusetts) and the recent designation of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area in adjoining New York State. You may also know about some of the other National Heritage Areas designated by Congress or under consideration in other parts of the country.

We are in the process of seeking to have our region designated the "Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area." This designation would provide a way to protect and preserve our historic and natural resources, while maintaining total local control and home rule. The designation will provide funding for long-term protection for our historic sites, landscapes and structures. If we fail to act and these are lost, they will be lost forever.

Heritage Areas receive technical assistance from the National Park Service and an annual appropriation of money from Congress for preservation and interpretation programs, without any Federal control or interference. This approach assures local independence while solving an urgent need for funds to protect our historic resources.

Please study the enclosed description of the proposed National Heritage designation. Take particular note that:

    1.There is no federal takeover or ownership of property.  We will not become a National Park.
    2.There is no cost to local government or taxpayers.
    3.We will receive annual funding for local conservation and historic programs, to be administered by a local grassroots non-profit, nongovernmental organization.

We are organizing a steering committee to carry out the necessary steps to win designation, and will be asking the area's congressional delegation to obtain Congressional authorization for a feasibility study to see if we qualify for National Heritage designation.

We want and need your support to get this program moving. Please look over the enclosed statement of Proposed Goals. If you agree with these goals, please complete the form and FAX it back to us at (860) 435-6127 or mail to: Tri-Corners History Council, Box 553, Salisbury, CT 06068. Please feel free to add any comments or suggestions.

Many thanks for your help. We have listed our affiliations below for identification purposes so you can see what our interests are.

The Trustees of Reservation
Falls/Village Canaan Historical Society
Lenox Historical Society
Housatonic River Restoration
Honey House Museum
Town of Canaan, CT
Salisbury Association





It is proposed that the 60-mile stretch of the Housatonic River watershed, from its headwaters near Lanesboro, Massachusetts, to the Sub-basin Divide below Kent, Connecticut, be designated as a National Heritage Area under the general aegis of the National Park Service. The principal unifying theme for the proposed Heritage Area is the early American iron industry that operated in the region between the 1730s and the 1920s, recently documented in detail in Echoes of Iron, by Edward Kirby (Sharon Historical Society, 1999), Parallel to this iron history is the social, agricultural and intellectual history of the region, described in Chard Powers Smith's The Housatonic (Rivers of America Series, Rinehart & Co., 1946).

Attached as exhibits to this proposal are copies of(A) Edward Kirby's annotated map of the Upper Housatonic River Watershed, marked with numbers showing the location of early iron industry sites in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York (keyed to Echoes of Iron  numbered sites), (B) the map of The Housatonic Valley from The Housatonic, with margin notes on key historic events and personalities, and (C) a Vision Statement and Goals.

The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area will be patterned closely on the highlysuccessful front-runner in preserving the beauty, values and history of a unified region, the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor, whose Executive Director, Charlene Cutler, has been extremely helpful on practical and policy issues in developing this proposal.

The Heritage Corridor/Areas programs is an innovative approach to encourage grassroots efforts to preserve and restore significant historic and natural assets and to foster compatible economic development and historic, recreational and environmental enhancement. Recognizing the limited availability of federal monies, the primary role of the federal government is to provide technical assistance and limited interpretation. Although "national heritage areas" have status within the National Park Service, the federal government does not own or manage the designated area. There are presently 17 such areas in the United States, including the nearby Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers National Heritage Corridor and Hudson River Valley Heritage Area.


The history of the Upper Housatonic Valley is a microcosm of the history of the nation, from the Native Americans and European settlement through its frontier days, the industrial revolution and the more recent growth in cultural, conservation and recreational activities. When compared with many other areas of the country, much of the early historic and natural landscape is still intact. The area contains a large number of structures and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places, There is also great potential for outdoor recreation, on waterways and greenways or trails, and a wide range of other activities for visitors and residents. The section of the River below Falls Village, CT is one of the prized fly-fishing centers in the Northeast. Parts of the Iron Heritage Trail and the 1847 Beckley Iron Furnace have recently been designated as an official project by the Millennium Committee to Save America's Treasures headed by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Susan Eisenhower and Richard Moe (President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation).

The area's history museums and unique historic sites include the Sloane-Stanley Museum (of early American tools) (in Kent); the Sharon Audubon Center (in Sharon); Bartholomew's Cobble and the Colonel Ashley House (in Sheffield); Monument Mountain Reservation (where Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville picnicked together) (in Great Barrington); Chesterwood (studio of Daniel Chester French), Naumkeag (designed by Stanford White), and the Normal Rockwell Museum (in Stockbridge); The Mount (home of Edith Wharton) (in Lenox); Arrowhead (home of Herman Melville) and Hancock Shaker Village (in Pittsfield); and the Crane Museum of Papermaking (in Dalton). There are a number of smaller local history museums, striving to preserve and interpret the area's past, many of very high quality.


The first step is to organize a strong grassroots committee to work for designation with the area's Congressional delegation and the respective States of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Upon passage of preliminary authorizing legislation, the National Park Service will be requested to provide technical assistance in studying the area's potential for designation as a heritage area, and to supply funds / technical assistance for various projects to raise public awareness of the natural, historic and cultural assets of the area.

Local, regional and state agencies, businesses and private citizens will be invited to support a cooperative effort to preserve and enhance the region's resources and accomplish better planning for the future. Draft legislation will then be presented to the area's Congressmen to begin the lengthy process of congressional approval of the area's designation. The legislation will authorize an annual appropriation to support the Area's program and goals comparable to the amounts currently appropriated for other National Heritage Areas.

Comments and suggestions on the foregoing proposal are solicited and welcome.

    Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area Partnership
    c/o Tri-Corners History Council
    Box 553
    Salisbury, CT 06068

August, 1999

List of Towns Included in the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area

North Canaan

Great Barrington
Mount Washington
New Marlboro
West Stockbridge

(Note: Adjacent New York State towns are included in the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.)


The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area will preserve its natural, historic and cultural assets while helping to assure a quality of life based on a strong, healthy local economy compatible with its character. This will be accomplished through local, regional and state cooperation, and partnerships with businesses, organizations and residents. Town government will play the pivotal role, as land use decisions will remain, as they historically have been, at the local level.


Goal:  A nonprofit organization will be incorporated by the citizen grassroots steering committee to act as the permanent administrative body for the Heritage Area. The organization's bylaws will name appropriate public and private agencies for representation on its board as ex-officio members, including:

Housatonic Valley Association
Housatonic Initiative
Housatonic River Restoration

plus other public agencies and organizations essential to the Area's progress.


Vision:  Historic, natural and cultural assets will be preserved, supported and interpreted.


  • Preservation of early American iron industry sites in the Heritage Area.
  • Providing grants for staffing, promotion and interpretation of local historic sites and museums in the Heritage Area.
  • Restoration and preservation of appropriate historic structures and buildings within the Heritage Area.
  • Increasing public appreciation and protection of the historical, natural and cultural resources of the Heritage Area.
  • Support for visitor centers in the Heritage Area and publication of visitor maps and guides.

Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area Partnership


  1. Preservation of early American iron industry sites in the Heritage Area.
  2. Providing grants for staffing, promotion and interpretation of local historic sites and museums in the Heritage Area.
  3. Restoration and preservation of appropriate historic structures and buildings within the Heritage Area.
  4. Increasing public appreciation and protection of the historical, natural and cultural resources of the Heritage Area.
  5. Support for visitor centers in the Heritage Area and publication of visitor maps and guides.






  • We support the proposed goals of the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area Partnership.
  • We wish to become a member of the Advisory Committee for the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area.


    Organization Name (or Individual)






    Please FAX completed form to (860) 435-6127 or mail to:  Box 553, Salisbury, CT  06068




Richmond Iron Works and Local History page
Copyright October 1999 
Karl Danneil 
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