Not long after the Pilgrims came ashore, Bridgewater became the first inland settlement to branch out from the Plymouth Colony, incorporating in 1656. Its fertile soil and bountiful rivers provided for a rich agricultural community. As the Industrial Revolution forced farmers into factories, Bridgewater experienced rapid social and economic growth and change. Iron, shoe, and paper manufacturing flourished, and the railroad brought European immigrants in search of the American Dream. In Bridgewater, vintage images tell the stories of the Bridgewater Academy, the normal school, the changes in and around the common, the business pursuits of local proprietors, and the spiritual and civic life of Bridgewater residents.