For over 150 years in a prosperous 200-mile industrial corridor along the Connecticut River between Bridgeport, Connecticut and Windsor, Vermont, hundreds of firms built the world’s metalworking, machinery, cutting tools and measuring and inspection devices. Other companies in the region purchased these machines and produced finished goods, including rifles, carriages, rail cars, ice skates, bicycles, motorcycles and automobiles. The Valley economy was vibrant and home to thousands of skilled workers. Things took a turn for the worse in the 1960s and 1970s as locally owned firms were purchased by outside investors and the industry was challenged by global competitors. Forrant will explain the remarkable rise and swift decline of industry in the region we call home.
Robert Forrant is Professor of History at UMass Lowell. The author of books and articles on industrial history and deindustrialization, he worked for many years as a machinist at the American Bosch plant in Springfield before its 1986 closure. He was named UMass Lowell Distinguished University Professor in 2016