Pittsfield To Williamstown
( Originally Published 1919 )
R. 5 § 2. Pittsfield via Cheshire to North Adams (22.0 m.) and Williamstown. 27 5 m.
This route follows the State Highway,' clearly marked, as far as North Adams, by blue bands on telegraph poles and fence posts. From North Adams to Williamstown it follows the east and west Highway, similarly marked with red bands. An alternate route leads via Lanesboro to Williamstown direct (see next page).
Leaving Pittsfield via North St., at the House of Mercy Hospital take the right fork with the trolley on Tyler St. into Dalton Ave. At Coltsville (5.o) turn north upgrade, leaving trolley, with blue markers. The route straight on, yellow markers, leads through Windsor and Cummington to Northampton and Ashfield (R. 14).
Berkshire (5.5) is a small hamlet with glass works, the sole survivor of a once prosperous industry. The Berkshire Glass Works started here in 1853 were famous for the making of window glass until the use of natural gas occasioned the removal of the industry westward.
The route for several miles skirts a reservoir and then follows the narrow valley and the headwaters of the Hoosic river.
10.5 CHESHIRE. Alt 1000 It. Pop 1508 (1910), 1535 (1915). Berkshire Co. Settled 1766. Mfg. lime; glass-sand and iron ore.
In 1801 Cheshire Democrats expressed their, exultation at Jefferson's election by making the `Cheshire Cheese,' of 1235 pounds, moulded in a cider press, and hauled to Hudson Ferry by a fabulous number of oxen, whence it was safely forwarded to the new President.
A road up Greylock starts on the left at Cheshire Harbor (13.o), a hamlet between Cheshire and Adams. The Pinnacle, a spur of Greylock, looms above the road to the west, and at Adams the dome of Greylock itself stands high at the head of the valley on the left; the Chieftain's Stairway, a scar on the mountainside, was made by a cloudburst in 1902.
16.0 ADAMS. Alt 790 ft. Pop (twp) 13,026 (1910), 13,218 (1915). Berkshire Co. Settled 1761. Mfg. cotton, paper, and lime; marble. Named for Samuel Adams.
In McKinley Square is a statue of President McKinley, who laid the cornerstone of the Memorial Library facing the statue.
From the Forest Park Observatory, west of the square, there is a view of the town and its vicinage, with the old Quaker meeting house and graveyard, dating from the Quaker settlement that far outnumbered all other denominations in the early days of the town. Susan B. Anthony, pioneer of the woman's suffrage cause, was born here. Her father had taught the district school in the South Village, and Susan at the age of fifteen taught the children of Bowens Corners at her grandfather's homestead for a dollar a week apiece. In the hollows of the Ragged Mountain road are several of the oldest houses in this section, near the marble quarries; and near the river is the Government Trout Hatchery, which supplies the brooks of western Massachusetts with 250,000 fry annually. Here are located the Berkshire Cotton Mills, one of the largest in the country, and the L. L. Brown Paper Company.
Adams was originally known as East Hoosuc. On its incorporation in 1788 it was named in honor of Samuel Adams, `The Father of the Revolution.e Just a century later its overgrown daughter was separated from it.
The road to North Adams follows the trolley, east of the river and the railroad. Hoosac Mountain is on the right, and the Green Mountains ahead. Zylonite (18.3) is a village named from a substitute for celluloid manufactured there. In the meadows is a buried forest, submerged by the lake whose shore line is still traceable on the mountainsides. In Colonial days this section was known as Slab City.
22.0 NORTH ADAMS (R. 15).
From North Adams to Williamstown reverse Route 15, marked by red bands on poles and posts, down the valley of the Hoosic.
27.5 WILLIAMSTOWN (R.15).
Alternate Route. Pittsfield to Williamstown, via Lanesboro and New Ashford. 22.0 m.
This route, though not adopted as the State Trunk Highway, is chiefly State macadam with no heavy grades.
From Pittsfield the route follows North St. past the Maple-wood Hotel on the right and the hospital on the left into Wahconah St. The road skirts Pontoosuc Lake to
5.5 LANESBORO. Alt 1100 ft. Pop 947 (1910), 1087 (1915). Berkshire Co. Settled 1754.
Lanesboro is still a rural village, contrasting with the trim urbanity of Lenox and Stockbridge. Originally called New Framingham, it was afterward named as a compliment to the beautiful Irish Countess of Lanesborough.
Near the entrance to the village on the right is the cemetery, and from the highway is seen opposite the gate, on a rise of ground, a granite boulder with the inscription, " Josh Billings."
This is the grave of Henry W. Shaw (b. 1818), who under his pen name was as familiar to past generations as `Mr. Dooley' is today. He literally rode into popularity by his "Essa on the Muel," and he won a secure position and a comfortable competency by his adherence to his pet saying, "Tu sta is to win. A man can outliv a not hoal." This appeared in a comic almanac which ran to 170,000 copies and made his fortune. Half a mile further up the street on the right is the comfortable building with the broad, double-columned stoop, now the Hillcrest Inn, which was his ancestral home. Here his father, Henry Shaw, was visited by the statesman Henry Clay.
On Constitution Hill, to the west of the village, overlooking Pontoosuc Lake, was the home of Jonathan Smith for whom the hill was named. It was largely due to the speech that Smith made before the State Conference that the Federal Constitution was adopted. A boulder at the crossroads bears this inscription:
"In memory of
A plain farmer of Lanesborough who by a speech full of good sense and good feeling carried the Massachusetts convention September 1787—Pebruary 1788 by a vote of 187 to 168 in favor of ratifying The Pederal Constitution.
"I have lived in a part of the country where I have known the worth of good government by the want of it. . . . I had been a member of the convention to form our own State Constitution, and had learned something of the checks and balances of power; and I found them all here. . . . Take things in time. Gather fruit when it is ripe . . . we sowed our seed when we sent men to the Pederal Convention: now is the harvest, now is the time to reap the fruit of our labor."
The first settlers chose this site because well away from the Indian trails, but nevertheless the town was destroyed in 1766 during King Philipes War, but soon after rebuilt. The glass works of Lanesboro and Lenox Furnace were once famous. They derived their material from the snow-white quartz which is found in masses in the ledges about here and is now shipped to Pittsburgh and other glass centers.
Beyond the village the route keeps to the left of the fork, following the Williamstown sign.. The route ascends the valley of a little stream and at New Ashford (14.o) crosses the divide and begins the descent of a tributary of the Green river. As we emerge into the broader valley of the main stream the scene that discloses itself is one of singular beauty. On the right towers Greylock (3500 ft), which Holmes poetically called "the highest wave of the great land storm of all this billowing region," and which Frances Ann Kemble has commemorated in the following lines:
"Greylock, cloud-girdled, from his purple throne, A voice of welcome sends, And from green sunny fields, a warbling tone The Housatonic blends."
To the left is the long, beautiful line of the Taconic range, while before one stretches the broad valley of Williamstown until it meets the first swell of the Green Mountains, around whose base winds the Hoosic on its way to join the Hudson.
16..5 SOUTH WILLIAMSTOWN. Alt 1000 ft.
This quiet hamlet is superbly situated in the lower Green river valley, where it broadens into the valley of the Hoosic. To the east of the village, Hopper Brook is a natural amphitheater, known as the Hopper, formed by the combined action of frost and stream. The southern wall of the valley is known as Stony Ledge; or the `Bald Pate' of the Lion Couchant, as Professor Albert Hopkins loved to call it. The northern side is formed by Simonds Peak of Prospect Mountain. In the upper part of the valley, sometimes called the Inner Hopper, lingers a legend of counterfeiters of Revolutionary days. Here are the Wawbeek and Sky Falls, probably the highest permanent cascades in the State. Of them Professor Hopkins wrote: "The falls are in a dell so deep and lonely, that to most persons they are destined to remain among the myths of Greylock. Only those who have beheld the Notch and the Inner Hopper, or Hopper within the Hopper, are able to appreciate the tremendous powers that have nearly overthrown the Chieftain Greylock himself."
The Camping Ground, near the head of Bacon Brook in the southern branch of the valley, is the site of the annual camp of the Alpine Club of Williams, founded by Professor Hopkins in 1863, the first of its kind in this country.
Cloudbursts have scarred the sides of the valleys with land-slides; the air currents above the Hopper also produce strange phenomena, not only blasts of sound, like that of the famous Bellowspipe above North Adams, but also freakish drafts which suck kites and even balloonists down into the Hopper from the mountain heights. The farmers foretell the weather by the degree of mistiness in the Hopper of a morning, the clearer its outlines the better the weather, they say.
22.0 WILLIAMSTOWN (R.15).