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Clay Hill, Greenfield, 1861

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This is the earliest known photograph of Clay Hill in Greenfield, Massachusetts. It was taken in 1861 from Main Street, looking east-southeast across the common. Many of the buildings in this picture were there when Dexter Marsh found the "turkey tracks" as he was laying a sidewalk in 1835, and some buildings remain today. Clay Hill is still in the commercial heart of the town, but it is now known as Bank Row.

The buildings in the illustration for the story "A Common Man's Uncommon Discovery" can be seen behind the trees in this photograph. The Marsh home, long gone, was a little further to the right, beyond the frame in view. That was where visitors came to see Marsh’s "cabinet" of fossil footprints and other objects. 

This photograph was taken only eight years after the death of Dexter Marsh and three years after that of James Deane, so the town would have looked fairly similar to this when the discoverers of fossil footprints brought widespread attention and excitement to this small county seat. A stroll alongside the Allen building at the far left would have passed Dr. Deane's former medical office and, a bit further on, led to his house, where his wife and daughters still lived in 1861.

Date:
1861
Courtesy of:
Historical Society of Greenfield