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The Pioneer Valley includes approximately half of the southern Connecticut River Valley—an ancient rift valley created by the breakup of the supercontinent Pangea along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge during the Triassic and Jurassic periods of the Mesozoic Era.
The Connecticut River has been flowing through the valley for millions of years and was naturally dammed to form glacial lake Hitchcock during the last ice age.
Seuss Memorial, Augustus Saint Gaudens's outdoor masterpiece, "The Puritan," and five world-class art, science, and history museums at the Quadrangle.
Forest Park, a city park of 745 acres (3,010,000 m) designed following the principles of Frederick Law Olmsted, who is most famous for designing New York City's Central Park, is comparably diverse and ornate.
Many of these have become quaint and scenic since the decline of the mills, (e.g., Turners Falls.) Massachusetts's Routes 2 and 2A, which run through Franklin County, feature many antique stores.
Hampshire County is the home to five prominent colleges and universities that cooperate with each other and are known collectively as the Five Colleges.
The Chicopee River, although only 18.0 miles long, has the largest water basin in Massachusetts—and along the Connecticut River—at 741 square miles.
Across from Chicopee, on the west side of the Connecticut River, the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside is one of the largest malls in New England.
Each of these highly regarded liberal arts colleges and universities contribute to Hampshire County's college town atmosphere, particularly in the significant college towns of Northampton and Amherst.Travelers are drawn to the Pioneer Valley by its lively college towns, such as Northampton and Amherst; the resurgent city of Springfield; its unspoiled nature, numerous parks, and recreational facilities, including New England's largest and most popular amusement park, Six Flags New England in Agawam; its cultural and historical sites, such as the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, the Springfield Armory National Historical Site, and the Basketball Hall of Fame on Springfield's riverfront.The region features alpine skiing at resorts such as Berkshire East and Blandford Ski Resort and seasonal festivals that draw millions of visitors, such as The Big E—all six New England states' collective, annual state fair in West Springfield—and Bright Nights at Springfield's Forest Park—an elaborate, high-tech lighting display during the holiday season.In addition to the Connecticut River, Springfield features Watershops Pond, Porter Lake, and the Mill River. Westover Air Force Base is located in the resurgent, former industrial city of Chicopee.Less than two miles south of Springfield, Six Flags New England amusement park is located in suburban Agawam; and one mile west of Springfield, The Big E—the collective state fairgrounds of all six New England States—is located in West Springfield. The City of Chicopee features the confluence of the fast-moving Chicopee River and the meandering Connecticut River.