Physical Geography

MassachusettsMassachusetts is one of the New England states that lie in the northeastern United States.

There are five major regions: The Coastal Plain consists of Cape Cod, the Boston Basin, and such adjacent islands as Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and the Elizabeth Islands. It is a sandy lowland similar to that fringing most of the nation's Atlantic coast. Formed during the Ice Age by debris from melting glaciers, the Coastal Plain is the state's only region that is not part of the Appalachian Highlands. Sandy beaches, dunes, and offshore bars line the coast; lakes and low hills occur inland.

The Seaboard Lowland extends from the Coastal Plain north into New Hampshire. It is primarily a region of low rounded hills and low-lying basins. The Blue Hills south of Boston rise some 600 feet (180 m) above sea level and separate Narragansett and Boston basins. A rocky coast prevails in the north; elsewhere the coast resembles that of Cape Cod. There are many glacial lakes and land-forms.

The New England Upland is a hilly, almost mountainous, area occupied by most of central and western Massachusetts. It is dotted with numerous monadnocks (isolated mountain remnants, here rounded by glaciers). The westernmost section is known as the Berkshire Hills. To the north they merge with the Hoosac Range, an extension of the Green Mountains of Vermont. Summits rise to elevations of 1,800 to 2,200 feet (550 to 670 m). Cutting the Berkshires in the extreme west is the scenic Housatonic Valley.

The Connecticut Lowland, locally called the Pioneer Valley, is a broad north-south valley following the Connecticut River across most of the state. It drops abruptly from the upland to a valley floor that is relatively flat. Only occasionally is it broken by prominent hills and ridges.

The Taconic Mountains, in the northwest, are part of a range extending from New York to Vermont. Near North Adams, Mount Greylock, the state's highest peak, rises to 3,491 feet (1,064 m). Like others in the range, its summit is rounded and its slopes are long and gentle.

The state treeThe state tree of Massachusetts is the American elm.
Interesting facts about Massachusetts
Volleyball was developed by William Morgan in 1895. Morgan was a director of the YMCA in Holyoke.
The National Woman's Rights Convention was held in Worcester on Oct. 23 and 24, 1850. It was the first national convention of women in favor of woman's suffrage.
The oldest voluntary military organization in the world, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, was established in Boston in 1838. Its purpose was to help men improve their military skills.
The first post office in the American Colonies was established at the tavern of Richard Fairbanks in Boston in 1639. The Massachusetts Bay Colony gave Fairbanks the right to process mail sent to or delivered from England.
The first World Series in baseball history was played in Boston from Oct. 1 to Oct. 13, 1903. The Boston Pilgrims beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the series, five games to three.
Basketball was invented in Springfield in 1891 by James A. Naismith, a physical-education instructor at the School for Christian Workers (now Springfield College). He invented the game to create a team sport that could be played indoors in winter.

Inland waters consist mainly of reservoirs and glacial lakes. Quabbin Reservoir, a major source of Boston's water, is the largest. Others include Wachusett Reservoir and Assawompset Pond.

Western Massachusetts is drained by two major southward-flowing rivers—the Hou-satonic and the Connecticut. Chief tributaries of the Connecticut are the Deerfield, Westfield, Millers, and Chicopee rivers. The Merrimack is the principal river of eastern Massachusetts. Among its tributaries are the Nashua and Concord. Other eastern streams include the Ipswich, Charles, Blackstone, and Taunton.

Flanking the coast are Nantucket Sound, Vineyard Sound, Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod Bay, and Massachusetts Bay. Smaller inlets include Boston and Plymouth bays.

The state flowerThe state flower of Massachusetts is the mayflower.

Massachusetts has a continental type of climate that varies mainly with distance from the sea. Areas near the tempering ocean have cooler summers and warmer winters than do areas inland. Average July temperatures vary from about 67° F. (19° C.) in the east to 70° F. (21° C.) in the west. Only occasionally is the weather hot. Winters are normally cold. Average January temperatures range from roughly 22° to 32° F. (-6° to 0° C.), the increase being from west to east.

Annual precipitation is between 34 and 48 inches (860 and 1,220 mm). It is rather evenly distributed throughout the year. Snowfall is about 20 to 70 inches (510 to 1,780 mm) a year. Northeasters and hurricane winds occasionally strike; fog is frequent and sometimes persistent along the coast. The climate is also marked by distinct seasons and highly changeable weather at all times of the year.