Rowe Historical Society
Kemp-McCarthy Museum

Coming soon...the latest issues of the Rowe Historical Society News and the Rowe Historical Society Bulletin

Welcome to the Rowe Historical Society



The Rowe Historical Society owns and operates the Kemp-McCarthy Museum located at 282 Zoar Road in Rowe, Massachusetts. It opened on June 30, 1963.


The museum has an extensive collection of local artifacts and antiques. Highlights of the collection include antique quilts, 19th century dolls, period costumes, china and glassware, sleighs, furniture, photographs, cookware, tools, farm implements, and an original 19th century hearse. Exhibits are updated regularly.


The Kemp-McCarthy Museum also has many valuable photos of townspeople and local sites, as well as literature from the Davis Mine and the Yankee Atomic Electric Company.


The Rowe Historical Society publishes The Bulletin, dedicated to the preservation of local history by highlighting "bits of history, old letters, pictures, news clippings and anything of interest to the history of Rowe," and The Rowe Historical Society Newsletter, featuring information on upcoming events and programs.


Many books are published by the Rowe Historical Society, including The History of Rowe, Massachusetts by Percy Whiting Brown and Nancy Newton Williams.


The Kemp-McCarthy Museum is open to the public every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. from July through mid-October, and at other times by appointment. Concerts, holiday celebrations, literary programs, and other cultural activities are held at the museum throughout the year.


Our website also provides useful information on membership in the Rowe Historical Society and directions to the Kemp-McCarthy Museum.

If you've never been to our town or museum, you can learn more about us by visiting  



The Mystery of Margaret O'Flaherty

Margaret O'Flaherty's grave is located in a corner of the West Cemetery. She was born in 1828 and died in 1848 at the age of twenty. She was in the household of Reverend Benjamin and Elizabeth Clark, probably as a domestic servant. Reverend Clark was the minister of Rowe's Second Congregational Evangelical Society (Orthodox) Church.

Most likely, Margaret O'Flaherty was born in Ireland and arrived in the United States as one of the early immigrants who came here between 1783 and 1844. The much larger Great Hunger Migration of 1846 began just two years before she died.

Every year around this time, we celebrate the many contributions of Americans of Irish ancestry, and think about Margaret O'Flaherty and her life in mid-nineteenth century Rowe.

Below: Antique St. Patrick's Day card
Thanks to Nan Williams for information on Margaret O'Flaherty


(Preliminary Announcement)

The Hoosac Tunnel has always been an important part of the history of Rowe.

*The east entrance is just across the river from Rowe's Neck, the stretch of Rowe land where the Big Bend of the Deerfield River flows

*One of the eight stone lining towers used in the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel was located on Rowe's Head, the mountain just across from the tunnel's east entrance

*The famous Hoosac Tunnel station was located in Rowe

*Many people from Rowe worked on the tunnel project, and for the Boston & Maine railroad.

The next Rail-Fan event on the Hoosac Tunnel is scheduled for October 4, 2015. Proceeds will be used to help meet the costs associated with restoring our valuable documents.

This year's event features the following experts:

Dr. Cliff Schexnayder will speak on "The Hoosac Tunnel-Birthplace of Modern Tunneling." He will introduce his new book, BUILDERS OF THE HOOSAC TUNNEL at this Rowe event. Cliff is an Arizona State University Eminent Scholar, Emeritus. He is an experienced author and speaker.

Jerry Kelley, a Hoosac Tunnel expert and audience favorite, will talk about his travels "Around the East Portal," with a special look at the Jenks and Rice Hotel. Some of Jerry's famous models of the Hoosac Tunnel will be on display.

Tim Lawrence returns to the program to show his excellent video on the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel, with a special emphasis on the Haupt Tunnel. Tim's excellent videos were a big hit at Rail Fan II.

As in previous years, attendees will have the opportunity to network and meet representatives of professional rail societies, including local star Carl Byron, author of PINPRICK OF LIGHT.

There will be rail exhibits, prizes, refreshments, surprises and more!

Please check this website for updates and other important information.
Top Photo: Cliff Schexnayder and Jerry Kelley (with Rail-Fan Kirk Baer) at the Amherst Historical Society rail show at the Big E in Springfield

Bottom Photo (L to R): Rail Fans Tim Lawrence, Jerry Kelley, Carl Byron and Chuck Cahoon


Some of the many activities at the Rowe Historical Society in 2014:

Concert by the Northampton Flutes

Repair of all our antique clocks

Interpretative performer John Anderson presented Washington Irving

Held special exhibit on John Marin and his work in Rowe

Held Christmas concert and Sing-a-Long with Dennis Ainsworth

Created new exhibit on Rowe's Davis Mine

Began an affiliation with Time Travelers reciprocal museum benefits program

Received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Amherst Railway Society

 Participated in the annual train show sponsored by the Amherst Railway Society in West Springfield - Many of the show's 25,000 attendees stopped by our table to learn more about the Rowe Historical Society

Please scroll down to see some pictures from 2013.
Photos courtesy of Trustee John Magnago

Trustee John Magnago Directs the Oral History Project

Thanks to the efforts and hard work of Trustee John Magnago, our oral history project continues successfully.

This past summer, John has interviewed many townspeople and recorded their recollections and observations for future generations.

John interviewed noted artist Helene Glass in her studio. Helene's work has been displayed in galleries in the U.S. and abroad.Coincidentally, Helene cites John Marin as one of her favorite artists, and Marin, too, was inspired during his time spent in Rowe.


The Rowe Historical Society & Kemp-McCarthy Museum Join
 Time Travelers:
RHS Members Will Benefit

Members of the Rowe Historical Society now have an important bonus included free with all paid memberships: exclusive benefits and privileges at over 250 organizations in more than 40 states across the country, such as free or discounted admission and gift shop discounts. Time Travelers, a reciprocal membership network for historical sites and museums throughout the United States, now includes the Rowe Historical Society (and its members) in this network.

The Rowe Historical Society is one of seven Massachusetts museums to participate in the program; others include the Nantucket Historical Association, Falmouth Museums on the Green, the Jackson Homestead in Historic Newton, the Shirley-Eustis House Museum in Roxbury, the Westford Historical Society and Museum, and the Worcester Historical Museum.  Many Rowe members spend part of the year in Florida, and there are many museum in the "Sunshine State" that participate in this program, including historical society museums in Fort Lauderdale, Key West and Tampa Bay.

Time Travelers is sponsored by the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. To see other museums nationwide that participate in the network, visit

Remember to have your Rowe Historical Society membership card with you when you travel in order to receive these benefits at network museums.

Preserving Our Historical Documents for Future Generations

The trustees are working hard to develop effective strategies to preserve our historical documents for future generations. The effects of time, humidity, and other problems have resulted in the deterioration of some of our most important holdings.

Recently, a group of trustees consulted with document preservation professionals at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. Trustees Ellen Miller and John Magnago (above) are shown at work in the Center.

The next issue of the Bulletin will contain detailed information on this very important project.


A Valuable Collection Given to the Museum

Hoosac Tunnel expert Jerry Kelley and his wife, Gayle, have given the Kemp-McCarthy Museum an exceptionally fine collection of rare postcards and stereo views of the Hoosac Tunnel.

Thank you, Jerry and Gayle, for your ongoing generosity.

Shown below: Image of a Hoosac Tunnel Switcher (from the collection)





Thank you to the hundreds of people who made Rail-Fan a huge success! Read all about it here: