Mount Tom Range - History - Early Tourism and Conservation

Early Tourism and Conservation

In 1861, following the success of the hotel on the summit of Mount Holyoke across the river, William Street opened a summit hotel on Mount Nonotuck and named it Eyrie House. The hotel was closer to the Connecticut River and therefore more accessible than the hotel on Mount Holyoke, which spurred the owners of the latter establishment to build a rail line and a ferry dock from the river to the base of Mount Holyoke. The hotel burned down in 1901 when Street attempted to cremate two horses on the mountain and lost control of the fire, leaving only the cellar holes and the walls of the stone understory standing.

Another hotel, the Mount Tom Hotel, was constructed on the summit of Mount Tom in 1897, but it burned down three years later. Subsequently rebuilt, it burned again in 1929 and was never rebuilt; in 1902 the property became the first parcel to become the Mount Tom State Reservation. In 1933 the Civilian Conservation Corps assisted with the construction of reservation structures and park roads still existent through the turn of the 20th to 21st century.

In 1897 the Holyoke Street Railway Company began constructing what would become known as "Mountain Park", a trolley park and later an amusement park on the east side of the range. The project changed hands several times until its closure in 1988 when competition from larger amusement parks gradually sapped business away what had become affectionately known by locals as "The Queen of the Mountain."

Both the Holyoke Range and the Mount Tom Range were part of a 1966 proposal by the National Park Service for a "Connecticut River National Recreation Area." Although the project was never realized, it has been followed through in spirit by a number of similar local and national conservation efforts, including an increased effort to acquire land on both ranges for state park expansion, the creation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts of the Connecticut River Greenway State Park, and the recent proposal by the National Park Service for the inclusion of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail in a new National Scenic Trail.

Read more about this topic:  Mount Tom Range, History

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