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The City of Holyoke is located by the Connecticut River where the first of several dams was constructed in 1848 to take advantage of a 57-foot drop in the river level. The water power created by the dam was transferred to new industrial sites along 7.5 miles of hand dug canals. At one point, more than 25 paper mills were in operation in Holyoke, annually producing the greatest tonnage of paper of any city in the world. Although only one company continues to manufacture paper, the dam, canals and much of the industrial and commercial architecture remain intact. Owing to the city's excellent location at the junction of Routes I-90 and I-91, the reuse of many buildings has proved to be economically feasible. The game of volleyball was invented in 1895 by William G. Morgan at the Holyoke YMCA and the city is rightly claimed to be the "Birthplace of Volleyball". Recreational attractions include the Volleyball Hall of Fame, the Wistariahurst Museum and the Children's Museum, and Holyoke Heritage State Park where the former Mt. Park Merry-Go-Round is permanently housed. The State Park also hosts "Celebrate Holyoke", an annual three-day event which brings visitors from around the region to enjoy nationally known performers. Residents feel Holyoke is rightfully described as "The Best City by a Dam Site."
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