Mount Holyoke

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Mount Holyoke, a traprock mountain peak, elevation 935 feet (285 m), is the western-most peak of the Holyoke Range and part of the 100-mile (160 km) Metacomet Ridge. The mountain is located in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts, and is the namesake of nearby Mount Holyoke College. It is known for its historic summit house, auto road, scenic vistas, and biodiversity. The mountain is crossed by the 110-mile (180 km) Metacomet-Monadnock Trail and numerous shorter trails. Mount Holyoke is the home of J.A. Skinner State Park which is accessible from Route 47 in Hadley, Massachusetts.[1][2]

The mountain is located in the towns of Hadley and South Hadley, Massachusetts.[3]

Contents

History

Origin of name

The mountain was named after Elizur Holyoke. The city of Holyoke, Massachusetts and Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now Mount Holyoke College) were both named after the nearby Mount Holyoke and not directly after Elizur Holyoke.[4]

The Mount Holyoke Summit House

In 1821, an 18-by-24-foot (5.5 by 7.3 m) guest cabin was built on Mount Holyoke by a local committee—one of the first New England summit houses. The property changed hands several times between 1821 and 1851 when it was bought and rebuilt as a two-story, eight-room hotel. Local entrepreneurs John and Frances French were the primary owners; between 1851 and 1900, the hotel and property were subject to a number of upgrades and related construction projects including a covered tramway to the summit of the mountain (first drawn by horse, then mechanized), a railroad from the base of the mountain to a steamboat dock on the Connecticut River, and the construction of a number of outbuildings and trails. With passenger steamship to the connecting summit railway established, the Mount Holyoke "Prospect House" became a popular tourist destination. The steamship would pick up guests at the Smiths Ferry railroad station across the Connecticut River in what was then Northampton, ferry them to a tramway leading to the Half Way House. From there guests could take a steep (600 feet long, rising 365 feet) covered inclined tram to the summit (shown in drawing at right[5]). The track for this tram was first laid in 1867 and the system electrified in 1926. Competing establishments were soon built on Mount Tom and Mount Nonotuck across the Connecticut River, and on Sugarloaf Mountain and Mount Toby to the north. The Prospect House property passed hands again in the early 1900s, to chain hotelier Joseph Allen Skinner, who eventually donated the hotel and property to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a state park in 1939 on the condition that the park be named after him (now the J.A. Skinner State Park).

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