When the 157 miles long Lake Hitchcock's water receded some 15,000 years ago, its rich alluvial soils formed the Connecticut River Valley.
In the mid 1800's at the site where the river dropped 57 feet, Holyoke was the first planned industrial city in the United States. A dam, the largest in the world at the time, and three levels of canals were built; they provided water power for its 50 factories. The community evolved to fulfill the needs of the manufacturing center, complete with boarding houses to shelter the mill workers. All types of products were manufactured in Holyoke but the major product of its mills was fine quality paper. At one time 25 paper mills operated in the city; Holyoke was called "The Paper City of the World".
The peripheral needs of the mills were many and included printing, publishing, and paper converting. Hitchcock Press, then known as the Wisly Printing Company, provided many letterpress printed items and intricately engraved lithographed labels for the mills that lined the canals.
The paper mills no longer operate in Holyoke, the dam now produces hydroelectric power, and the remaining mills are occupied by various businesses, public and private organizations. Many artists have studios within the mills. Much of Holyoke's current products continue to be paper related.
Hitchcock Press is proud to be part of Holyoke's rich heritage.