, Newburyport, MA


January 18, 2013

Prospect of Amesbury History Park offers lots to cheer about

I read Monday’s Daily News account of Amesbury putting its Lower Millyard plan on “fast track” with more than casual interest. It was thoroughly detailed and was accompanied by an artist’s rendering of what the area will look like when completed.

No one was in hearing distance when I drove to the area later and saw what had become of it, what it could look like once again, and said, “Wow!”

I have a thing about rivers that run through or along cities and towns. There was that of promise to settlers who depended on them for transport, of what could be done with them through all of time.

This northeast corner of Massachusetts is blessed with them, and Amesbury’s little Powow is the feistiest, plunging raucously over its falls as it does through the center of town and beneath its business district to reappear and wind its way peacefully below to join with the mighty Merrimack on its way seaward.

Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury share the Merrimack, but it is the grand sweep upriver along Amesbury’s Pleasant Valley Road that links it to the Powow that provided Amesbury’s settlers with a major natural resource.

It took me a good part of my lifetime to appreciate all of that, but downtown Amesbury has a special place in my memory bank.

As a 5-year-old when my father was working at the hat shop on the banks of the Merrimack and we were living upriver on Pleasant Valley Road, I attended the first grade in the school just up the rise from the town’s center and saw the river and downtown Amesbury in all its seasons.

It was 1926 and Amesbury was a bustling town where the making of hats and automobiles were major contributors to the town’s economy. Many of the buildings related to those times remain for whatever use might be made of them.

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