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600 Million Years of Natural History From Pangaea to the Connecticut River

Program Number: 18828RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/16/2013 - 7/19/2013; 7/19/2016 - 7/22/2016;
Duration: 3 nights
Location: Deerfield, Massachusetts
Price starting at: $597.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Natural History Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 9; 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners    
Meal Options: Gluten Free; Vegetarian    

Ancient rock formations in the Connecticut River Valley tell the story of billions of years of continental splitting and colliding. Explore the rich natural history of the 410-mile river stretching from New Hampshire’s Connecticut Lakes to Long Island Sound. Discover armored mud balls and see fossil specimens collected at the Natural History Museum of Amherst College — home to the largest collection of dinosaur tracks in the world — and examine the ecological diversity of the region at the Great Falls Discovery Center.


• Join local geologist Richard Little for a geologic exploration of Mount Sugarloaf, followed by a picnic lunch.
• Enjoy a geologist-led boat ride along Connecticut River through magnificent French King Gorge to Barton’s Cove.
• Identify flowers, trees, birds and insects during an expert-led walk along Channing Blake Foot Path.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile on mostly even terrain, short inclines.

Coordinated by Historic Deerfield.


With a history encompassing both native inhabitants and European colonists, Deerfield offers a portrait of New England in its earliest days. This quintessential western Massachusetts village is surrounded by working farms and rolling cornfields, and its museum houses contain one of the best public collections of art and antiques in America.

Charming inn with historically decorated rooms in the heart of Old Deerfield.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Richard Little

Richard Little is the founder and owner of Earth View LLC, a geology education services and products company. A Professor Emeritus at Greenfield Community College, he was inducted into the Massachusetts Science Educator Hall of Fame in May 2004. Richard holds a bachelor’s from Clark University and a master’s from the University of Southern California, and has published numerous papers on the Connecticut River Valley and New England geology.
Faith Deering

Faith Deering is the museum educator in Historic Deerfield’s Department of Museum Education. Before coming to Deerfield, she worked at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History as an entomologist. Faith brings years of teaching experience, work with the public and museum interpretation to her position in Historic Deerfield. One of Faith’s strong interests is making connections between the natural world and human cultural history.
Daria D'Arienzo

Daria D’Arienzo worked with the Hitchcock family papers at Amherst College as archivist and head of archives and special collections from 1984 to 2007. She is co-curator and co-author of the Mead Art Museum exhibition and related catalog, “Orra White Hitchcock: An Amherst Woman of Art and Science.” Among other articles, Daria is author of “Orra White Hitchcock’s Classroom Drawings” and “The Union of the Beautiful with the Useful: Through the Eyes of Orra White Hitchcock."
Meals and Lodgings
   Deerfield Inn
  Deerfield, MA 3 nights
 Deerfield Inn
Type: Inn
  Description: The Deerfield Inn is an original historic inn that opened in 1884, located in the hearth of Old Deerfield founded in 1673, an idyllic village surrounded by tranquil life, working farms, the Deerfield River, rolling hills and history that dates back 10,000 years. It has been the home of the Pocumtuck Indian people who farmed the rich soil on the banks of the Deerfield and Connecticut Rivers and English colonists who came here in the 1600s. The Inn is in the heart of Historic Deerfield, a museum complex of fourteen museum houses and the Flynt Center of Early New England Life. This area is known as a little piece of paradise and called the Happy Valley due to the fertile soil and clean water that produces an abundance of fruit, vegetables, fowl and fish that are taken avantage of in the Deerfield Inn's kitchen. The Deerfield Inn has an elegant Main Dining Room, Champney's Tavern, and the Beehive Parlor that will be home to participants. The Deerfield Inn is next door store to the Museum Store. Additional amenities include beautifully appointed guest rooms. A post office, Deerfield Academy, Bement School and Eaglebrook School are all close by and provide a quaint New England educational atmosphere.
  Ship Information: 81 Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA 01342.
  Contact info: 81 Old Main Street
P.O. Box 321
Deerfield, MA 01342 USA
phone: 800-926-3865 x4137745587
  Room amenities: Fine Inn amenities including television, soap, shampoo, lotion and other personal items. Complimentary tea and cookies served on most afternoons.
  Facility amenities: All rooms are artfully decorated with well appointed Colonial decor and some antiques. The rooms are named for original English settlers of Deerfield. There are 3 rooms available with 2 beds and one room that a cot can be added. All other rooms have one bed - kings and queens. Two bed rooms will given to unrelated roommates first. Beautiful grounds, fine dining room, casual cafe with seating inside and outside, Tavern Bar and Beehive Parlor which serves an old fashioned tea and cookies repast. Shorts walk on the street to museum houses and other fine buildings.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: starting at $140/night + tax Call 800-926-3865 to make reservations to come early or stay late. Special Road Scholar rate for extended stay, based on availability, is equal to the Historic Deerfield member rate for time of year. Rooms vary starting at $140/night plus 5.7% MA tax.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: starting at $140/night + tax Call 800-926-3865 to make reservations to come early or stay late. Special Road Scholar rate for extended stay, based on availability, is equal to the Historic Deerfield member rate for time of year. Rooms vary starting at $140/night plus 5.7% MA tax.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
3:00 p.m room check-in You will be staying at Deerfield Inn that night.
  End of Program:
12:00 p.m. You will be staying at Deerfield Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
There is abundant free parking at the Deerfield Inn and museum areas at Historic Deerfield.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Deerfield, MA
  Nearest city or town:  Greenfield, MA
  Nearest highway: Located off Interstate 91 at exit 24/25; also within 6 miles of Route 2 heading east/west across the northern part of Massachusetts.
  Nearest airport:  Bradley International Aiport Hartford/Springfield
  From End of Program
  Location: Deerfield, MA
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details



From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Seemo Shuttle
phone: 800-908-2829
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$70/person shared shuttle or $120/ ride private service
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


1.25 hours. 




55 miles


Seemo offers both a per person shared shuttle that picks up at the airport on a rotating schedule or a private service. When travel with 2 or more people, it is best to get the private service.




From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Valley Transporter
phone: 800-872-8752
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


1.25 hours or more depending on # of other passengers 


Valley Transporter offers a shared ride shuttle. Reservations can be made online at Most cost effective option for single travelers. A wait at the airport or train depot possible.




From Bus Terminal




phone: 413-773-9062


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


10 minutes 


Peter Pan bus lines to Greenfield, closest stop for Deerfield. For schedules and rates call: 800-237-8747

Driving Directions
  Bradley Int'l Airport Hartford/Springfield Exit Airport, follow signs to Interstate 91 north towards Springfield, stay on 91 past Holyoke and Northampton about 55 minutes to exit 24, "Deerfield." Turn right off exit ramp to go north on Rtes. 5&10 for about 6 miles, following signs for Historic Deerfield. Car rentals available at the airport.
  From 1-91 Northbound in Massachusetts Follow signs for Historic Deerfield to exit 24, "Deerfield". Turn right off exit ramp. Deerfield Village is approximately 6 miles north on Rtes. 5&10, when you see Richardson's Candy slow down, turn left at the Sunoco Station, go right about one half mile to the Deerfield Inn, heart of Historic Deerfield..
  From 1-91 Southbound in Massachusetts Take exit 25 and turn left off exit ramp and the left at first light onto Rtes. 5&10 northbound. Deerfield Village is approximately 5 miles on Rtes. 5&10, when you see Richardson's Candy slow down, turn left at the Sunoco Station, go right about one half mile to the Deerfield Inn, heart of Historic Deerfield.
  From I-90 - Massachusetts Turnpike Eastbound or Westbound Exit 4 - I-91. Follow I-91 Northbound, towards Holyoke from tollbooth. Follow directions for I-91 Northbound to Deerfield.
  From Rt 2 in Massachusetts Follow Rt 2 westbound (from Boston's Northern suburbs and points in NH and ME) or eastbound (from points in Northern Berkshires and New York) to junction with I-91 south and follow directions for I-91 Southbound.
Equipment Requirements: Rain hat/sun visor, rain jacket and umbrella recommended for occasional rainy day. Pen and notebook for lectures and binoculars for field trips recommended.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival & Registration, Check-in & Orientation, Introduction to the Connecticut River Valley
(Tuesday, July 16)
 Arrive To: Welcome to Deerfield! Room registration at the Deerfield Inn is available starting at 3:00pm. Program check-in is at the Historic Deerfield Visitors' Center in Hall Tavern. Your orientation to the program begins at 5:00pm. ORIENTATION: Your arrival packet will contain an updated schedule of presentations, field trips, and other program related activities that we will review during orientation. Please be aware that local circumstances may require adjusting program elements. In the event of changes, we will notify you as quickly as possible. We appreciate your understanding. (If you arrive late due to travel delays, the hotel desk staff will give you your packet when you check-in.)
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the Deerfield Inn, built in 1884 and located in the center of the National Historic Landmark village of Deerfield. The Inn uses the finest and freshest naturally-raised produce in its restaurant, and menus reflect the change in seasons.
 Evening: INTRODUCTORY TALK: "Sense of Place: Deerfield and the Connecticut River Valley" led by Faith Deering, Historic Deerfield museum educator. With humor and poety, Faith will acquaint participants with the Deerfield as a natural setting with a long geological history that created a valley that has provided a rich haven to flora and fauna as well as the various human communities that have settled the valley.
Accommodations: Deerfield Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Dinosaurs, Dunes, and Drifting Continents: the Geological History of the Connecticut River Valley and "Between River and Ridge: A Nature Walk through Old Deerfield"
(Wednesday, July 17)
 Breakfast: The hearty continental breakfast features the Deerfield Inn's homemade granola.
 Morning: LECTURE: “Dinosaur, Dunes, and Drifting Continents: Natural History of the Connecticut River Valley” with noted local geologist and author, Richard Little, will illuminate 600 million years of geological time that created the Connecticut Valley, where you will find specimens of some of the oldest rocks in the world. Following this fascinating presentation, we’ll hear a lecture from Daria D'Arienzo, local archivist, on the life and work of Orra White Hitchcock, wife of Edward Hitchcock, professor and, later, president of Amherst College. Hitchcock (1793-1863) popularized the science of geology and led the movement to make geology part of the American college curriculum. He served as state geologist in Vermont as well as Massachusetts, made many geological discoveries, and joined the early serious study of dinosaur fossil footsprints. Orra was the primary illustrator of works and D'Arienzo will show and discuss the illustration of the natural world in the Connecticut Valley and illustrations of geological concepts that were used in Amherst College classrooms
 Lunch: Picnic lunch on "The Street." Enjoy an informal box lunch from the Deerfield Inn to enjoy on the street at your leisure.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: We'll take a morning walk along Channing Blake Footpath in Old Deerfield led by Historic Deerfield museum educator, Faith Deering. Meadows, farmlands and forests offer a rich ecosystem with a great diversity of plants and animals. Through an interpretive walk, open your eyes and minds to the wildlife between river and ridge. Along the way, Faith will identify plants, birds and insects, answer questions about the natural history of the area and read some selections from naturalists of the past, who have loved and treasured this landscape. You will also have some time to visit the Historic Deerfield Museum houses of your choice with an entry ticket good until 4:30pm on Friday.
 Dinner: A hearty dinner from the Deerfield Inn featuring local produce.
 Evening: FREE EVENING. Please refer to the “Free Time Activities” section for suggestions of what you can see and do.
Accommodations: Deerfield Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: World-class Class Collection of Dinosaur Footprints and Local History of the Study of Geology
(Thursday, July 18)
 Breakfast: The hearty continental breakfast features the Deerfield Inn's homemade granola.
 Morning: Visit the Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield where you will learn about the early days of Edward Hitchcock who started his career of teaching and geology at Deerfield Academy. Enjoy a bonus tour of a Historic Deerfield museum house that illustrates a "Walk Through Time from 1725 to 1850."
 Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch on Mt. Sugarloaf, South Deerfield. Composed of a prominent sandstone rock called Sugarloaf Arkose, Mt. Sugarloaf is a fine example of the Connecticut Valley's geological history. Its summit offers some of the best scenic views of the broad agricultural landscape of the Connecticut River Valley. Richard Little accompanies and orients the group on this part of the field trip.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Beneski Museum of Natural History, Amherst College. Following an orientation, we'll have an expert-led exploration of this quite amazing museum that tells the story of Edward Hitchcock's discoveries, including the largest dinosaur track collection in the world. The museum contains three floors of exhibits and more than 1,700 individual specimens on display. Participants may choose to enjoy a side visit to the Emily Dickinson Museum at her home, "The Homestead." Enthusiastic and expert guides will illuminate the life of this fascinating and captivating American poet. We will then travel to the Dinosaur Footprints reservation in Holyoke, Massachusetts, to see actual footprint fossil preserved in situ by the Connecticut River that are protected and maintained by the Trustees of Reservations. If you choose, you can take a walk along the river.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant featuring a bountiful meal of home-style cooking near the Dinosaur Footprints Reservation.
 Evening: Return to the Deerfield Inn around 8:00 p.m. for a relaxing evening.
Accommodations: Deerfield Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Rock Park, Great Falls Discovery Center, Study Cruise on the Connecticut River and Program Concludes
(Friday, July 19)
 Breakfast: Hearty continental Breakfast at Deerfield Inn featuring the Inn's homemade granola
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Greenfield Community College Rock Park. The GCC Rock Park was begun in the early 1980s by Prof. Richard Little as a way to preserve the rare armored mud ball samples he discovered in suspension cable bridge foundations on the banks of the Connecticut River. Samples from other sites were added to create an outdoor display of large specimens from the region. New specimens were acquired over the years, sometimes carried back by students from field trip locations. We’ll also explore the Great Falls Discovery Center, the interpretive center for the Connecticut River Watershed, located in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. The Center is located in historic mill buildings. Exhibits include depictions of different wildlife habitats of the watershed and the different species found in each. STUDY CRUISE: Enjoy a relaxing, yet informative cruise on the Connecticut River through magnificent French King Gorge to Barton's Cove (river conditions permitting). Geologist Steve Winters will provide interpretation and commentary. .
 Lunch: The program concludes with a farewell lunch at the Deerfield Inn. Please be sure you have checked out of the hotel by 11:00 a.m. You will also have some time to visit the Historic Deerfield Museum houses of your choice with an entry ticket good until 4:30pm on Friday. We hope you have enjoyed this learning adventure and will join us for other fascinating and rewarding programs in association with Historic Deerfield. Best wishes for all your journeys!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
  Deerfield, MA Amherst History Museum
Free time activity in Amherst Field Trip The Amherst History Museum opened in 1916 and is governed by the Amherst Historical Society, which was founded in 1899. Housed in the 1750-era Strong House, the Amherst History Museum takes visitors on a journey from the town's colonial past, through its industrial age and into the computer-driven present. The Museum is filled with decorative arts, paintings, household implements, agricultural tools and other pieces of history from the nearly three hundred years since Amherst was settled. The collections range from the ordinary to the unique, and capture a sense of every day life often missing from history books. The period rooms of the Amherst History Museum are a blend of the old and the new, of 19th century Victorian taste combined with the hallmarks of the 20th century. Floral motifs curl around imported Delftware, pewter plates, blue and white Staffordshire china mingles with an 18th century grandfather clock, and a Victorian calling card holder sits company with stately Georgian paneling. In addition to the period rooms, rotating exhibits and special programming, the Museum provides educational tours for school children and students throughout the year. The museum is about 5 blocks from the Natural History Museum of Amherst College that in destination of the day's field trip. Admission not included in program price. For additional information, visit
  Emily Dickinson Museum
Free time activity in Amherst. Emily Dickinson Museum consists of two historic houses,The Homestead and The Evergreens, in the center of Amherst, Massachusetts, closely associated with the poet Emily Dickinson and members of her family during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Homestead was the birthplace and home of the poet Emily Dickinson. The Evergreens, next door, was home to her brother Austin, his wife Susan, and their three children. The Emily Dickinson Museum was created in 2003 when the two houses merged under the ownership of Amherst College. The Museum is dedicated to educating diverse audiences about Emily Dickinson’s life, family, creative work, times, and enduring relevance, and to preserving and interpreting the Homestead and The Evergreens as historical resources for the benefit of scholars and the general public. The museum is about 3 blocks from the Natural History Museum of Amherst College that in destination of the day's field trip. Admission not included in program price. For additional information, visit
  Memorial Libraries
Free time activity in Old Deerfield. The libraries of Deerfield’s two museums, Historic Deerfield and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, are housed together in one building, known as the Memorial Libraries. The Henry N. Flynt Library serves primarily as a research center for Historic Deerfield’s collections and programs. Holdings are particularly strong in the decorative arts, architecture, and material culture of early New England, and include approximately 21,000 printed volumes, numerous periodicals, and more than 2,000 microforms accessible through an online catalog. The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Library collections document the life and thought of Deerfield from the close of the 17th century to the 20th. The library’s 24,000 books, many with histories of local ownership, include literature, sermons, history, travel, biography, and works on agriculture, animal husbandry, and domestic economy. The library also has an extensive manuscript collection, rich in material on families and local history. Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tues - Fri. For additional information, visit
  Memorial Hall Musuem
Free time activity in Old Deerfield. Museum hours: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, Tues. - Fri. Return to Memorial Hall Museum during the week after organized tour on Monday.The village museum, Memorial Hall, is one of New England's oldest museums. When Deerfield Academy's original 1798 school building became available, antiquarian George Sheldon organized the collection of artifacts he was assembling and in 1880, Memorial Hall opened. The museum's extraordinary collection of furnishings, paintings, textiles and Indian artifacts is "the finest collection of local antiquities in New England and one of America's oldest museums." For additional information, visit
  Historic Deerfield Cooks' Garden
Free time activity in Old Deerfield. This kitchen garden serves as a source of fresh ingredients for the museum’s open hearth cooking demonstrations and classes. The garden contains an assortment of useful plants commonly found in New England during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The Cooks’ Garden was dedicated in 2006 in memory of Margaret Quinn Orloske, a member of the museum who enjoyed open hearth cooking and gardening, and with thousands of others died on September 11, 2001. Funds from the Margaret Quinn Orloske Endowment are used to replenish heirloom plants, for general garden maintenance, and for support of the open hearth cooking program For additional information, visit
  Chaning Blake Foot Path
Free time activity in Old Deerfield; also there is a guide walk along the path scheduled during program. A fully accessible footpath open seasonally, the Channing Blake Foot Path takes visitors past a working farm and through meadows to the Deerfield River. Interpretive panels along the one-third mile walk describe local geology, natural history, and Native and European presence. For additional information, visit
  Historic Deerfield Museum Store
Free time activity in Old Deerfield. Historic Deerfield Museum Store offers a wide array of gifts and books. Find a variety of American crafts, jewelry, and reproductions as well as souvenirs. The bookshop features thousands of titles on art, history, craft, and architecture. A children’s book section offers books for young readers of all ages. For additional information, visit
  Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory
Free time activities in Deerfield accessible by personal car. Enjoy other local attraction along Deefield's main artery, routes 5 & 10. Magic Wings Butterfly conservatory, 8,000-square foot conservatory is home to nearly 4,000 free-flying butterflies from all over the world! Summer hours 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Spring, Fall and Winter hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admissions are not included. For additional information, visit
  Yankee Candle
Free time activity in Deerfield accessible by car. Flagship store for Yankee Candle, based in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. World's Largest Candle Store. It's a candle lover's dream - over 160 of our famous, true-to-life scents, plus beautiful accessories, accents and collectibles. Come Experience Wax Works - The Newest Area of Yankee Candle Village! Enjoy Wax Hands, Wax Souvenirs, Wax Art and so much more. Candlemaking Museum. Ever wonder how Colonial Americans lit their homes? See fascinating, free daily demonstrations of nineteenth-century candlemaking.Open everyday 10:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Dinosaurs, Dunes, and Drifting Continents:

Author: Richard D. Little

Description: 180 pages, 8.5 X 11 inches, color cover (Will Sillin’s “In the Late Triassic”), abundantly illustrated with maps, diagrams, and photos; plus a bit of humor, too. From plate tectonics, dinosaur discoveries, and rare armored mud balls, to Lake Hitchcock’s deltas and dunes, plus geologic resources and hazards; this book has it all. And it includes a “Where To See It” appendix to guide you to field sites from the Valley’s head to mouth; plus a glossary and index. ADOPTED in a number of classrooms! ISBN: 9616520-7-1 Available for purchase at

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