Walking through this quiet region of north-central Massachusetts, it’s hard to imagine the heavily forested landscape’s former incarnation – as a local farmer/entrepreneur’s recreation park. Before becoming known as Royalston Falls, the imposing chute was called Forbes Falls. In the 1840s, Calvin Forbes owned and worked the land, which for generations had been cleared for crop production and livestock grazing.
Forbes also added people-friendly attractions. Couples and families could enjoy walks and picnics, and listen to music, all against the spectacular backdrop of the falls. There were swings and picnic tables, a variety of walkways, even a staircase leading to the roaring base of the falls themselves. People were learning that fresh air and exercise could have healthful effects on their hard lives. Like today, visitors could hike, fish, ride horses, or just study nature within a beautiful natural setting. At the top of the granite face, according to historical records, there was even erected a (short-lived) casino, where live bands played and couples danced!