In 1821, an 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 inclined tram to the summit. 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).
The summit house had suffered from storm damage during the Great Hurricane of 1938 and had been demolished; in 1942 the enclosed tramway to the summit house broke down. A heavy snow storm in 1948 collapsed sections of the roof. Despite proposals to repair the tram it never ran again. The tram was finally demolished in 1965. State funds for maintenance of the summit house during the 1950s and 1960s were never adequate and by the mid-1970s there were proposals to condemn and demolish the summit house. This led to a public outcry and in the mid-1980s the summit house, consisting of the original 1851 structure and the 1861 addition, was restored by the state and through the efforts of local volunteers.
In 2000, Mount Holyoke was included in a study by the National Park Service for the designation of a new National Scenic Trail now tentatively called the New England National Scenic Trail, which would include the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail in Massachusetts and the Mattabesett Trail and Metacomet Trail trails in Connecticut.
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JACK KENT COOKE FOUNDATION JOINS AMHERST, MOUNT HOLYOKE COLLEGES TO INCREASE ACCESS TO FOUR-YEAR COLLEGES FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS
Mar 06, 2006; Amherst University issued the following press release: Amherst and Mount Holyoke Colleges have joined with the Jack Kent Cooke...
Mount Holyoke Professor Wins American Association for the Advancement of Science Lifetime Mentor Award; Sheila Browne to Be Honored for Increasing Number of Women With Ph.D.s in Chemistry.
Nov 14, 2005; Byline: Mount Holyoke College SOUTH HADLEY, Mass., Nov. 14 (AScribe Newswire) -- Sheila Browne, Bertha Phillips Rodger Professor...