Agawam, Massachusetts is a city of 28,000 residents located across the Connecticut River from Springfield. Covering 24.2 square miles, it borders West Springfield, Southwick, Longmeadow, Springfield, and Westfield, as well as Suffield, Connecticut. The western border of the city is also the highest point in the city. Provin Mountain is part of a trap rock ridgeline running from Vermont down to Long Island Sound.
Our city has the unique distinction of having the lowest zip code in the continental U.S. – 01001. It also has a subsection known as Feeding Hills, which maintains a separate zip code. Provin Mountain is here, as well as about 25% of the population of the city. It is home to residential developments, farms, shopping centers, churches, and restaurants.
The city received its name from the Native American village which was here, and can be taken to mean “the fish-curing place” or “unloading place”. This refers to the practice of unloading and curing fish caught at the waterfalls on this ancient site.
Agawam, MA was purchased from the Pocomtuc Indians by William Pynchon in 1636. It was part of a larger sale including Springfield, Chicopee, Longmeadow, and West Springfield. The town itself was purchased for 10 coats, 10 hoes, 10 knives, 10 hatchets, and 10 fathoms of wampum (a form of beaded currency). The entire purchased area was called Springfield, and in 1757, along with West Springfield, split off from Springfield, forming a new parish. This split land then divided again in 1800, leading to the incorporation of our own town in 1855.
One of the longest standing businesses in town was founded by John Porter in 1780 when he founded the H. Porter Distilling Company. It operated until 1917, and transitioned to make potato chips and cider during Prohibition. It then made gin again before finally closing in 1938. Other businesses were founded here, including a cotton mill, The Agawam Woolen Company, and specialized printing presses. Today, Six Flags Amusement Park, formerly Riverside Park, is operated here.
Six Flags New England is now the largest amusement park in New England, with award-winning roller coasters. It is also the oldest amusement park owned by the Six Flags chain.
Before it became an amusement park, the area was a popular picnic area known as Gallup’s Grove, and then renamed to Riverside Grove. In the early 1900s, rides and a carousel were opened, making it a popular attraction. It was purchased in 1911 and transformed into an amusement park with roller coasters and the Lake Takadip swimming pool.
It was forced to close during the Great Depression, but was purchased, improved, and reopened in 1940 as Riverside Park. The Thunderbolt coaster was opened in 1941 and still operates today as the oldest coaster in the Six Flags park chain. A NASCAR speedway was even opened here, drawing in even more crowds to this Massachusetts amusement area.
Over the years, the park continued to expand and change, remaining a popular seasonal attraction. It was purchased by Premier Parks, who then came to own the Six Flags chain, and its name was changed in 2000. Today it is still the largest amusement park in New England, drawing guests from all over Massachusetts, Connecticut, and beyond to enjoy the award-winning thrill rides.
Though primarily a farming community, Agawam Massachusetts has a rich history, thriving industries, and a bustling theme park, proving that in our town, there is something for everyone.