Observations of the Connecticut River by Adraien Block

In 1614, Adraien Block sailed up the river called the Quinni-tukq-ut or Quoneh-ta-cut, meaning long tidal river, by the Amerindians living along its banks. What might he have seen from his ship?

As quoted in Howe (1969),Block reported his impressions of the river. The villages he saw may have looked much like the one pictured here.

Shown with Permission from Dr. C. Keith Wilbur

Several Amerindian groups (approximately 8,000 people) lived along the river from its mouth up through Massachusetts. They lived in areas that had been cleared and cultivated for generations and were situated at favorable spots along the river. It is no accident that present day towns such as Springfield, Northampton, Hadley, Hatfield and Northfield, Massachusetts are located as they are. These towns were founded at those same favorable, cultivated sites.

Shown with Permission from Dr. C. Keith Wilbur

By 1633, the Europeans had established their presence along the river: first the Dutch set up trading posts; then English from the Plymouth Colony on Cape Cod came to establish rival trading posts; finally more English from the Bay Colony of Massachusetts came to stay as colonists. Springfield was the first settlement in Massachusetts in 1636. Northampton followed in 1653 Hadley in 1661 and Northfield in 1673. In less than forty years, colonists had settled along the entire length of the river in Massachusetts.

General Reading:

Bacon, E. M. 1907. The Connecticut River. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London.

Cronon, W. 1983. Changes in the Land. Hill and Wang, New York.

Howe, H. F. 1969. Prologue to New England. Kennikat Press, Inc., Port Washington, N.Y.

Russell, H. S. 1980. Indian New England before the Mayflower. University Press of New England, Hanover, N.H.

Wilbur, C. Keith. 1978. The New England Indians. The Globe Pequot Press, Chester, Conn.