Virtual Connecticut River Valley: Amazing Stories Preserved in our Rocks and Landscape

Date: July 23, 2021 - July 25, 2021


Pricing: The cost of the three-day program is $180 for non-members, $160 for members, and $80 for students. Register online using the button below. For registration and other information, please contact Julie Orvis at (413) 775-7179 or
Phone: 4137757214
Website (click here)
Historic Deerfield
80 Old Main Street
Deerfield, MA 01342

Virtual Connecticut River Valley: Amazing Stories Preserved in our Rocks and Landscape

July 23-25, 2021

The Connecticut River Valley is one of the best places to study geology in the world.It displays an amazing array of dramatic and even unique geologic events.  The Valley’s geologic heritage also creates the environment for diverse human achievements.Waterfalls, due to glacial Lake Hitchcock that disrupted the Connecticut River’s natural course, became an essential part of the Valley’s famous industrial heritage.Glacial Lake Hitchcock also provides the Valley’s agricultural richness.Deerfield is one of the best examples of this largess. It is fascinating and instructive to find ourselves in the middle of this geological – agricultural – historical landscape.

During this virtual program over three days featuring 8 ½ hours of content, you will learn how colliding plates enlarged North America to become part of the Pangea Supercontinent, and then split to create the early Connecticut Valley as well as the Atlantic Ocean.Dinosaurs ruled this faulted valley landscape, and you will see abundant evidence of the history.Various virtual field trips will bring you around the valley to explore the wide variety of geological phenomenon as well as the habitats and agricultural and industrial landscapes around the valley that have resulted from that geologic history. There will be talks by experts in geology, paleontology, history, and culture. We will learn about key local scientists who revealed remarkable fossil evidence of dinosaurs in the Valley. Deerfield’s Edward Hitchcock, who was the Massachusetts State geologist in the mid-19th century, and who eventually became president of Amherst College, was the first person to bring dinosaur footprints into the scientific world. His wife, Orra White Hitchcock, was noted for her illustrations of geological concepts and flora of the valley. We will learn about the early 20th century scientist professor at Mt. Holyoke College, Mignon Talbert, who discovered a new species of dinosaur, Podokesaurus Holyokensis, near the Mt. Holyoke College campus in South Hadley.

Four themes — “Deep Time and Early Study of Geology”, “Rocks and More Rocks: Understanding the Rock Cycle and How the Valley Illustrate the Cycle”, “Creatures and Habitats of Valley: Fossilized and Living”, and “Humans and Their Impact” — will unveil how geology influences world history and local culture and development. You will learn how to read the history preserved in rocks and landscape, a language that is universal.

This program will be presented live via Zoom webinar. A recording of the program will be available to participants for viewing for two weeks after the live presentation.

For a complete program schedule, click here or download a PDF flyer.

The cost of the three-day program is $180 for non-members, $160 for members, and $80 for students. Register online using the button below. For registration and other information, please contact Julie Orvis at (413) 775-7179 or


Friday, July 23

Section 1:                     Overview and Deep Time and the Early Study of Geology

5:50 p.m.                     Zoom webinar opens for sign in by attendees.

6:00 p.m.                     Welcome/logistical overview of the series. Historic Deerfield Staff                                      

6:05 p.m.                     Lecture: “Dunes, Dinosaurs, & Drifting Continents.”

                                    Richard Little, Professor Emeritus, Greenfield Community College

7:00 p.m.                     Field trip video: “French King Bridge: View of the French King Gorge and Evidence of the Eastern Border Fault.”

                                    Questions & answers, Richard Little

7:15 p.m.                     Lecture: “Orra White Hitchcock: An Illustrated Life”

                                    Daria D’Arienzo, Meekins Archivist

8:00 p.m.                     Break for the evening

Saturday, July 24

Section 2:                    Rocks and More Rocks: Understanding the Rock Cycle and How the Valley Illustrates the Cycle

9:00 a.m.                     Welcome back.                                                                Historic Deerfield Staff                                                    

9:05 a.m.                     Field Trip videos: “What rocks can be found in the CT Valley?”              

                                            Part 1: Exploring the Greenfield Community College Geology Path.

                                            Part 2: Exploring the Deerfield Rock Walk.

                                    Questions & answers, Richard Little

9:30 a.m.                     Workshop: “Rocks of Valley 1: Sedimentary, Igneous, and Metamorphic.”

                                    Harry Sharbaugh, Amateur Geologist and Historic Deerfield Guide

10:15 a.m.                   Break

10:20 a.m.                   Field Trip videos:

                                            Erving Old Mountains.

                                            Barton Cove: Fossil Waterfalls.

10:40 a.m.                   Questions & answers, Richard Little

10:45 a.m.                   Field Trip videos:

                                          Basalt Rock Columns of Highland Park

                                          Pillow Lava & Armored Mudballs.

11:05 a.m.                   Questions & answers, Richard Little

11:10 a.m.                   Field Trip videos:

                                          Shelburne Falls “Glacial Potholes”.

                                          Delta Sand and Gravel: Evidence of Lake Hitchcock Delta.

                                          Mill River Cemetery: Evidence of Lake Hitchcock Shoreline.

11:45 a.m.                   Questions & answers, Richard Little

12:00 p.m.                   Lunch break.

Section 3:                    Creatures and Habitats of the Valley - Fossilized and Living

1:00 p.m.                     Workshop: “Rocks of Valley 2: Fossils in the Rocks.”

                                    Harry Sharbaugh

1:30 p.m.                     Lecture and museum collection presentation: “The Dinosaur Footprints at the Beneski Natural History Museum.”

                                    Alfred Venne, Museum Educator, Beneski Natural History Museum, Amherst College

2:00 p.m.                     Break

2:05 p.m.                     Field Trip video: Dinosaur Footprints in Holyoke.

                                    Questions & answers, Steve Winters, Associate Professor, Holyoke Community College

2:20 p.m.                     Lecture: “Mignon Talbot and the Discovery of Podokesaurus Holyokensis.”

                                    Mark McMenamin, Professor of Geology, Mt. Holyoke College

3:00 p.m.                     Break

3:05 p.m.                     Lecture: “Today's Creatures and Habitats: An Exploration of the Connecticut River Watershed.”

                                    Janel Nockleby, Visitor Services Supervisor, Great Falls Discovery Center

3:35 p.m.                     Field Trip video: Today's Creatures and Habitats: A Nature Walk in Deerfield.

                                    Questions & answers, Faith Deering, Museum Educator, Historic Deerfield

3:55 p.m.                     Break

Section 4:                    Humans and Their Impact

4:00 p.m.                     Lecture: “Living in the Post-Glacial World: Human History in the Connecticut River Valley.”

                                    Claire Carlson, Education Program Coordinator and Director of Archaeology, Historic Deerfield

5:00 p.m.                     Break for the day.


Sunday, July 25

Section 4:                    Humans and Their Impact (cont.)

9:00 a.m.                     Welcome back.              Historic Deerfield Staff

9:05 a.m.                     Lecture: “The Holyoke Canal and Industrial Use of the River.”

                                    Charlie Lotspeich, Retired, Holyoke Heritage State Park

10:05 a.m.                   Break

10:10 a.m.                   Lecture: “The Anthropocene Era and Climate Change.”

                                    Steve Winters

11:00 a.m.                   Field Trip video: A Final Look from Mt. Sugarloaf.

                                    Questions & answers, Steve Winters

11:45 a.m.                   Wrap up and Thanks for participating!              



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