Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Trip To Mountain Park and the Mt. Tom Summit House Circa 1900 (photos courtesy of the Holyoke History Room, V.L.Hudson, Robert Schwobe Collection)




Dining from the veranda of the Summit House with a view of Mt. Nonotuck and the Holyoke Range to the north. Well, it's getting late, just enough time for an after dinner cocktail and it's back to the city.

In this sketch of a view from the top of the Summit House looking north, you can see both the Eyrie House and Mt. Holyoke Hotels. The Eyrie House operated by William Street was destroyed by fire in 1901, the Mt. Holyoke Summit House is still standing.

And finally were at the Mt. Tom Summit House. This is actually the second house which opened in July of 1901. The first was built in 1897, and was destroyed by fire in 1900. The second house met a similar fate in May of 1929. A third less elegant house was built shortly after and lasted until the Mt. Tom Railroad ceased operation in the mid 1930s.
Passengers making their way from Upper Station to the Summit House.

Pulling into Upper Station. Notice the supply car which ran on a special rail to the Summit House is in front of the trolley in the station.

Here is a view just past the curve looking east. Visible in the picture is Perkins (Whiting) St. Reservoir, Mountain Park, the Connecticut River, and Mount Holyoke Range. The views from the mountain in the early 1900s were spectacular, due to the lack of trees, a result of the mountains previous owner Fairfield, who owned a lumber company in Westfield and deforested much of the mountain. Today the only views of the east are on the summit, and those are best visible in winter time.

This is the only curve on the railroad, said to be the result of Mt. Tom Railroad owner William Stiles Loomis' refusal to cut down a tree that would have kept the rail on a straighter course. To make this route possible, the left side of the bed was filled with crushed basalt rock.
It's not too far to Upper Station!!!



Just past the rock cut heading for the curve and rock fill. In the background to the left where the trees are is the present day location of the B-17 Memorial built in memory of the 25 Army, Navy and Coast Guard men who lost their lives when the B-17 transporting them home from the service crashed there on July 9, 1946.

The Elizur Holyoke approaching the highest rock cut of the railway, about half way up the mountain.

Here we are just past the "turnout", this was the location where both rail cars past each other, it was a unique arrangement of rails that allowed one car to pass over the cable of the opposite car. The Elizur Holyoke was equipped with extra wheels so it rise slightly for it to clear the cables. Eack car always stayed on the same side at the turnout, The Elizur Holyoke to the left, the Roland Thomas to the right. In this picture you can also see the wheels that pulled the cable and the extra rail that was used for braking purposes. You get a good idea of how far up the rail we are at this point, with Lower Station and the Connecticut River in the background. The rail bed by the way had a grade of about 21%.

The Elizur Holyoke making it's way to the summit. Notice the extra set of wheels on the car and the telephone and signal wires at the side of the track. The extra wheels were for when the Elizur Holyoke past the Rowland Thomas at the "turnout" (more on this in the next photo) and the signal wires were for communication between the two cars.

Here we are approaching the first rock cut, several were made to lay the rail bed.

And away we go...

One of the conductors and his gal posing for a photo before leaving to the summit.
Does anyone know who these people are???

Here we are at Lower Station. This is where we board the Elizur Holyoke rail car to the Mt. Tom summit, it was one of two rail cars run by the Mt. Tom Railroad, the other car was the Rowland Thomas. The round trip cost to the Summit and back is 25 cents. The building on the right housed the Northampton trollies which ran a trolley line to Lower Station from the city of Northampton via Smith's Ferry and Mt. Tom Junction.

We're now on the trolley line that takes you from Mountain Park to Lower Station. Part of this rail bed is now the road that takes you to the now defunct Mt. Tom Ski Area. Lower Station was located where the old ski area's First Aid building stood...

It's time to board the trolley for Lower Station...

Not Me!!!

I wonder if one of those bears was owned by William Street who ran the Eyrie House???

Hey!!! let's go down to the Bear's Den...

Here's the original Merry-Go-Round, the concrete floor of this building was still visible in early 2009 before it was removed to make way for the staging area to the first concerts that were held at the park in the summer of that year. This is where we board the trolley for Lower Station (that's where we board the rail car to the Mt. Tom Summit House). First, let's check out Deer Park, then we'll take a ride on the Merry-Go-Round before heading to Lower Station....

The gravity roller coaster wasn't anything like the later Mountain Park Flyer coaster. The gravity coaster was just a car that was pushed by a ride attendant at station A that traveled on a hilly rail to another attendant at station B where the process reversed itself. Being one of two rides at the park, there must have been long lines of people waiting their turn to have a ride.

After taking the five cent trolley ride from downtown Holyoke, we arrive at Mountain Park, notice the ballroom, gravity roller coaster, trolley waiting pavilion and merry-go-round. Before we head up to the Summit House, let's go on the rides...Wow! only two rides to choose from...Let's take a ride on that gravity roller coaster...

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