CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Chicopee Historical Society held a program Wednesday evening chronicling traditional maple sugar harvesting in New England.

Maple syrup, also known as the “gold of the forest,” remains a staple of the New England economy. At the Chicopee Public Library Wednesday night, historical interpreter, Dennis Picard, spoke on the evolution of maple syrup from Native Americans through the nineteenth century.

“We’ve lost really the essence of that, you know the smell of the sweet stream coming off and seeing the drip of the sap coming out of the trees,” said Picard. “At one time, this was really the main source of sweetening for people in all of the United States.”

From slash to spile, Picard says that the story of the maple sap harvest is one of romance, folklore, and science.