1900:

  • On October 8 the Mt. Tom Summit House, only three years old, is destroyed by fire.

    1901:

  • The new Mt. Tom Summit House opens in July. Seven stories tall, it's crowned with a gold dome. Its main hall has a seating capacity for nearly 350 people.

  • On April 15 William Street, the owner of the Eyrie House hotel on Mt. Nonotuck attempts to cremate two horses. Though precautions were taken the unattended fire gets out of control and Eyrie House is completely destroyed.

    1902:

  • A trolley line is built though the Notch to connect South Hadley and Amherst. Because the trolley requires gradual grades and turns, much cut and fill work was done. Much of the old trolley bed remains.

  • The 1500 acre homestead of Christopher Clark is purchased for the Mt. Tom Reservation.

    1903:

  • John Dwight dies on November 25. Ownership of the Mt. Holyoke Hotel passes to his son Melatiah Dwight.

  • Cowls & Childs Co. open a traprock quarry on the Range. (Is this at the Notch?)

    1904:

  • Here is the 1904 brochure for Mt. Holyoke.

  • Work begins on the Mt. Tom Reservation.

    1905:

  • In February John Dwight's heirs place the property on the market. There is hope Mt. Holyoke would eventually become a public reservation.

    1907:

  • On September 14 Melatiah Dwight dies.

  • Christopher Clark, largely responsible for the Mt. Tom and Mt. Sugarloaf reservations takes an interest in Mt. Holyoke. He proposes that Mt. Holyoke, too, become a public reservation. He proposes a grand bridge be built to unite the new Mt. Tom Reservation to Mt. Holyoke.

    1908:

  • In March the property is sold to the Mt. Holyoke Hotel Co. which was formed by Joseph Skinner, L. Threadway of Threadway Inn fame, and Christopher Clarke. A key consideration for the corporation is to hold the land in trust for an eventual state reservation.

  • Prior to 1908 all carriage access to the summit was by a road up the back-side of the Range. In 1908 the new company begins construction on a new road from the Halfway Area to the summit via Taylor Notch... the road we use today. It is to have no more than a 10% grade making it suitable for both carriages and autos.

    1909:

  • Being unsatisfied with the 1908 road the company decides to rebuild the entire road from Titans Pier to the summit. Once done, it was covered with traprock.

  • The State Legislature approves Holyoke's annexation of the Smith Ferry section of Northampton. This section was physically sperate from the rest of the city by a thin section of Easthampton. The discontent of these stranded Smiths Ferry residents was aggravated because of the seasonal unreliability of the main connecting road though the Oxbow which made two-way travel difficult. Often the Holyoke Fire Dept. had to respond to fires in what technically was Northampton. The Smiths Ferry section includes land from Mt. Park north to the Oxbow.

    1915:

  • Christopher Clarke dies on November 21.

    1916:

  • State Forester F.W. Rane, who was given the task of reporting to the State Legislature on the Mt. Holyoke recommends that Mt. Holyoke become a state reservation. In his report to the legislature he says the hotel can be maintained as it will be self-supporting. He recommends the State purchase the property for the asking prince of $50,000. Some oppose the plan fearing it will lose money and increase State liability. The State Legislature votes down the proposal.

  • Joseph A. Skinner makes an offer to the stockholders of the Mt. Holyoke Co. to purchase their stock for $50,000. He thus becomes sole owner. He moves to log all chestnut trees afflicted with the chestnut blight. It's almost a half a million board feet. To replace the chestnuts Skinner plants over 50,000 white pines.

    1926:

  • Skinner makes extensive improvements to modernize the Summit House... including installation of plumbing and electrical service.

    1929:

  • On May 2 the summit house on Mt. Tom is again destroyed by fire.

  • The Mt Holyoke College Outing Club builds a cabin on the west face of Mt. Holyoke. To get to the site of this cabin today, hike about 500' up the road from the main gate at Skinner State Park. Look for an unmarked trail on your right. The remains of the cabin, a large fireplace, are about 300' up that trail. This trail once connected with the M&M trail but it's no longer maintained.

    1932:
  • The Mt. Holyoke Hotel is still operated as a Threadway Inn. This is one side of a plastic card, the other side of which is a calendar for 1932. The card was found in one of the old hotel-era dumps at Skinner State Park.

    1933:

  • The Civilian Conservation Corps [CCCs] begins work improving the Mt. Tom Reservation for recreational use.

    1934:

  • In October a proposal is floated to have Mt. Holyoke become a state park in honor of former President Calvin Coolidge of Northampton.

  • A public campaign begins by civic groups to have the State purchase at least 800 acres on the Range for a public reservation.

    1937:

  • In January Ernest Dean, Commissioner of Conservation, states that the State purchase of Mt. Holyoke would be "justified and desirable". But he adds that a major section of the Hotel should be removed.

  • Bills submitted to the legislature call for the purchase of property (800 acres) for $40,000.

  • In February the Hampden County Women's Club suggests the Mt. Holyoke Hotel be used as a youth hostel.

  • In May the Bill stalls in the House Ways and Means Committee.

    1938:

  • On September 21 the devestating Hurricane of '38 roars though New England. It badly damages the Summit House's 1894 Annex. Skinner announces it must be demolished. He also denies rumors that the entire Summit House and tramway are also to be demolished. Eventually even most of the Annex foundation is removed, but a section can still be seen to the east of the radio shack at the summit.

    1939:

  • Joseph Skinner offers to donate the land to the state on the condition the park would be named after him.

  • The State proposes that the Mt. Holyoke Hotel be replaced by a stone structure made of native rock. The historic core of the old Summit House would remain.

  • The State and National Park Service [NPS] recommend public ownership of the Mt. Holyoke Range.

    1940:

  • On June 19 Gov. Saltonstall officially accepts the new state park from Joseph Skinner and Skinner State Park is born.

  • On September 16th a public ceremony is held at the Summit House and a memorial plaque to Skinner is unveiled. It was announced that Mr. Fred T. Lymen, who worked at the hotel for over 50 years, would become Skinner State Park's first superintendent. Also announced was a formal rejection of previous plans to replace the Summit House with a stone museum.

    In this photo, which originally appeared in a newspaper printed in reverse, note the old Observatory atop Summit House. A ladder seems to lead to a platform on top. Less obvious to the left of the tree is the enclosed section that once connected the Summit House to the 1894 annex which was demolished after being badly damaged in the 1938 hurricane. The connecting section was removed by the early 1950's... all except for the basement section.


    1942:

  • In May the State reports the park is ready for a new season. New guard rails have been added to the road and some areas have been cleared for picnicking.

  • The motor on the tramway burns out and it ceases operation. Wartime shortages make getting a replacement impossible.

  • In October an accidental fire partially destroys part of the Halfway House.

    1944:

  • On May 27 a B-24 on a night training mission out of Westover AFB in Chicopee crashes into the side of Mt. Holyoke killing all 10 of its crew. Rescue crews have difficulty approaching the scene because of exploding munitions. The crash site was on the Range south of the Summit House. The military later bulldozed a road to the site to remove wreckage. Here's an article on the crash.

    1946:

  • Fred Lyman retires as Park Superintendent after some 55 years on the mountain. Charles Drozdal replaces him.

  • On July 9 a B-17, converted into a transport plane, crashes into the east side of Mt. Tom killing 25. A memorial on the old tram road now marks the site.

    1947:
  • State Commissioner of Conservation A. K. Sloper threatens to demolish the historic tramway which has been out of operation since 1942.

  • The Pioneer Valley Association appoints Roger Johnson of Hadley to head the effort to save the historic tramway. A public debate about the tramway's safety ensues between Commissioner Sloper and Johnson.

    1948:

  • In March a heavy rain atop a foot of snow causes the collapse of a 50' section of the roof over the covered tramway. The damage is all on the section adjacent the Halfway Barn.

  • South Hadley builds a new dam for the Lithia Springs Reservoir. This replaces a smaller dam and greatly increases the capacity of the reservoir.

    1949:

  • In January, State Dept. of Conservation requests $20,000 to repair tramway.

    The old Observatory atop the Summit House is removed in either 1949 or 1950.

    1950:

  • Plans to repair the tramway are put on hold until 1951.


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    mt. holyoke range timelines copyright 2001-2005 chronos historical services.