By Peter Currier
The Pioneer Valley Planning Committee is spearheading an effort to put the Hampshire and Hampden Canal on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
The Hampshire and Hampden Canal is the Massachusetts section of what was once an 86-mile-long 19th century canal that spanned from Northampton to New Haven, CT. The Connecticut portion of the canal has already been added to the NRHP.
The Columbia Greenway Rail Trail, the portion of the former canal that runs through Westfield, is still unfinished, though an important piece of the trail is set to be completed in April. The trail also runs through Southwick to the Connecticut line.
The Massachusetts portion of the canal ran from Northampton through Easthampton, Southampton, Westfield, and Southwick before crossing the state border. Westfield Historical Commission Chair Cindy Gaylord said that there is an effort to get all five Massachusetts towns to put up money to have the length of the canal archeologically surveyed.
“We will be presenting at the Community Preservation Committee meeting in April. I will be bringing someone from the Pioneer Valley Planning Committee to speak,” said Gaylord.