•COMING IN SEPTEMBER, 2015•

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

by Emery Roth

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Falls Village Farm


REMINDER: Reception tonight, 5-7 PM at the Sharon Historical Society, 18 Main Street, Sharon, CT, 860 364-5688.  A new book by Emery Roth will be available in limited quantities.

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Some barns are sentinels guarding history. The old Schaghticoke trail from New Milford, CT, to Great Barrington, MA, passes by these barns. It's an important thoroughfare even today. Before they were built Waramaug, the powerful, Wyantenock Chief probably passed this way to share news with the tribes up north of the white men settling by his summer lake. It's hard to believe that between those quiet times and these this was a place where heavy industry rutted the old road.

They called it Falls Village and dreamed of the power that would flow from the falls, miles of it, but it was iron that fueled the economy and a hunger for charcoal devoured the forests, to fuel iron furnaces that lit the night sky. And the air was thick and the streams foul. Beside the old road they put down railroad tracks to handle the added load. And then the railroad put yards here with a large turntable and sheds employing the mechanics that kept the cars rolling. Cannons and cannon balls were shipped from here and guns and tools, and in town they built important looking buildings. In 1914, when they built a hydroelectric plant here, the water wheels were gone and most of the old iron industry too, and things have mostly gotten quieter since. The traffic is heaviest on Sundays when fun in the Berkshires spills back south to city and suburbs, and most of those who drive this route from the Berkshires travel to enjoy rural New England.

The current owner of these barns doesn't know when they were built. He thinks the barns were built by Quakers. The jerkinhead roof is generally considered Dutch. It's likely these barns witnessed most of the commotion and drama that once took place here. Many travelers passing this way have noted these barns which appeared in a NY Times article. They have a friendly way of turning toward the road and making space for passersby. Few of those travelers can imagine the secrets they hold.