Upper Valley Industry Once Changed the World. Could It Happen Here Again?

Sometime between the mid-19th century and today, the Upper Valley came to be known by many as the "Precision Valley." America's machine tool industry, with roots in Windsor, VT, and Springfield, VT, among other towns, thrived for decades, setting the stage for the modern industrial revolution. 

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As part of the American Precision Museum's summer-long Sustainability Speaker Series, on August 5th, Distinguished Professor Robert Forrant, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts–Lowell, will visit the museum and speak about our region's unique impact on American industry and consumer culture and how, perhaps, the area is poised for a rebirth in the manufacturing sector.

Forrant’s talk, titled "The Rise, Demise, and Possible Rebirth of the Connecticut River Valley Industrial Corridor” will explore the 150-year history of industry along a 200-mile stretch of the Connecticut River, between Bridgeport, CT, and Windsor, VT.

By the turn of the 20th century, Forrant says, Windsor’s Robbins & Lawrence Armory (now the American Precision Museum) had solidified its place in American industrial history. He cites a 1916 book called English and American Tool Builders, in which author Joseph Wickham Roe wrote of the armory: “When built, it was miles away from a railroad. It was never large…but few plants have had so great an influence on American manufacturing” (p. 186).

In 1910, Forrant adds, of the more than 700 companies in the nation producing automobiles, auto bodies and parts, 100 were based in New England—and a majority in the Upper Valley. “By 1920, one-fifth of the nation’s machine tool firms with more than 100 worker were located along the Connecticut River,” he says.

On August 5th at the American Precision Museum, Forrant will explore the breadth of this important industry’s impact on the region and the world at large; how and why they managed to succeed; and he’ll share data and insights that suggest a possible resurgence of machine manufacturing in the Connecticut River Valley.

Join us at the Museum on Sunday, August 5th at 12:30 for Dr. Forrant's talk, titled "The Rise, Demise, and Possible Rebirth of the Connecticut River Valley Industrial Corridor."


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