600 Million Years of Natural History From Pangaea to the Connecticut River
Experience ancient wonders in a new light as you explore Mount Sugarloaf with a geologist, enjoy expert-led nature walks and view the largest collection of dinosaur tracks in the world.
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Program No. 18828RJ
4 days
Starts at
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4 days
3 nights
9 meals
3 B 3 L 3 D
Arrival & Registration, Check-in & Orientation, Introduction to the Connecticut River Valley
Deerfield, MA
Deerfield Inn

Dinner: Welcome dinner at the Deerfield Inn.

Evening: INTRODUCTORY TALK: "Sense of Place: Deerfield and the Connecticut River Valley" led by Faith Deering, Historic Deerfield museum educator. With humor and poetry, 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.

Dinosaurs, Dunes, and Drifting Continents: the Geological History of the Connecticut River Valley and "Between River and Ridge: A Nature Walk through Old Deerfield"
Deerfield, MA
Deerfield Inn

Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the Deerfield Inn.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Weather and trail conditions permitting, 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. 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.

Lunch: Take away lunch from the "Deerfield Lunchbox" and free time to enjoy as picnic on "The Street," as Old Main St is known in Old Deerfield. Lunch break includes a hour for free time to explore the area.

Afternoon: LECTURE: 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. FIELD TRIP: Later in the afternoon the group will visit the Memorial Hall Museum which features objects from Edward Hitchcock's early academic career at Deerfield Academy.

Dinner: A hearty dinner from the Deerfield Inn featuring local produce.

Evening: EVENING PROGRAM: Local Collector and Historic Deerfield Guide, Harry Sharbaugh, will present rock and fossil specimens from the Connecticut Valley that he has collected over many years.

Geology in Context and Dinosaur Footprints
Deerfield, MA
Deerfield Inn

Activity note: There will be a walk to Deerfield Academy to look at rock displayed in the landscaping.The walk is within the activity limits. Holyoke Dinosaur Footprints are found at the end of declining wood-chip/dirt footpath.

Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the Deerfield Inn.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: The day will begin with a short walk to the Deerfield Academy camput. Richard Little will orient participants to landscaping that displays rock specimens collected by Professor Little and his students from around the Connecticut Valley. The specimens are highlighted with the Armored Mud Balls found when a bridge was torn down in Turners Falls. These rocks are among the rarest rock formations in the world. After the walk, from the Deerfield Academy campus participants will board a bus for the rest of the day's field trip. On the way the bus will stop at a local cemetery where the geological evidence of the glacial Lake Hitchcock, that existed 10,000 year ago and drained to become the Connecticut River, is the most obvious.

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, Museum Educator, Alfred Venne will lead an 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. Participants are asked to respond to the questionnaire included in the advanced materials to gather an accurated count for this side trip. We will then travel to the Dinosaur Footprints reservation in Holyoke, Massachusetts, to see actual footprint fossils preserved in situ by the Connecticut River that are protected and maintained by the Trustees of Reservations.

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.

Great Falls Discovery Center, Study Cruise on the Connecticut River and Program Concludes
Deerfield, MA

Breakfast: Continental breakfast at Deerfield Inn. The group will have between 7:30 and 8:30 to eat breakfast and to check out of room before embarking on the morning's field trip.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: We will 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 from River View Park in Northfield through the magnificent French King Gorge (river conditions permitting). Geologist Steve Winters will provide interpretation and commentary.The trip on the river concludes about 12:00 PM and the group will return to Deerfield for lunch at about 12:30 PM

Lunch: The program concludes with a lunch at the Deerfield Inn. With prior notification when participant arrives, take-away boxes will be available for those who plan to leave immediately. Participants are encouraged to plan to stay for the aftteroon to visit the Historic Deerfield Museum houses of your choice and the Memorial Hall Museum. Your admission tickets included with the program are 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!

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