Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pittsfield to the NY line

West of Pittsfield, US 20 crosses the Taconic Range. At 3.4 m. is a splendid view of the mountains (N). Prominent is the 'Ope of Promise, a knob like peak on Tower Mountain. On this the spirits of dead Shakers were supposed to dwell. (Pictured here: Shaker Village round barn.)

The Old Shaker Colony, 4.7 m., was established between 1780 and 1790. At the Community House and Handicraft Shop the handicrafts are still cultivated, though less than a dozen members remain of a once large and prosporous community.

The Summit House (alt. 1480) and an Observation Tower are at 6 m.

At 7.1 m. on Lebanon Mountain (alt. 1400) is a turnout from which there is a view of open fields, and in the distance the wooded tops of the New York Berkshires. In the heart of the valley are a group of buildings of the Lebanon (NY) Shaker Village (L). The Lebanon School for Boys occupies a group of buildings formerly owned by the Shaker Community.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


(TheOldLibrarian: the following is adapted from the Pittsfield city entry in the guidebook... Pictured here is West Street in the 1940s)

Pittsfield, power-source and playground. (alt. 1038, pop. 45,516, incorp 1761.)
Railroad stations: Union Station, West St., B. & A. R. R.
Bus stations: 48 South St. for Greyhound, New England Transportation, Arrow, Interstate, Vermont Transit, Berkshire Motor Coach, Blue Way. Nutmeg and Peter Pan lines.
Accomodations: one first class and three second class hotels; numerous inns.

In the shadow of Mount Greylock, high in the rolling Berkshires, Pittsfield opens the commercial gateway to western Massachusetts. Situated between the upper branches of the Housatonic River, the city is traversed by streams which for a hundred years or more furnished power to factories producing such varied products as silk thread, mohair braid, tacks...

Today the city has a prosporous, tranquil look of general comfort and culitivation which makes it one of the most attractive industrial cities in the state...
There has been a change, however, in the character of the city's holiday population. In the latter part of the 19th century Pittsfiled attracted a wealthy leisure class who resided solidly on spacious estates. The rambling old Maplewood Hotel, in the heart of the modern city, was a relic such as could not be matched short of Saratoga, with its long verandas...
The advent of the automobile has changed everything. The leisurely old school ladies and gentlemen who once trotted sedately in victorias or runabouts are no more. Their modern successors now whirl in and out again in swift cars, and hotels, new and old, are conduits for a never ending stream of summer and winter visitors...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Springfield to US 7 cont.

At 48.3 m. US 20 turns sharply right, ascends a steep hill, and passes charming Laurel Lake (bathing, fishing), 49.2 miles. Back of the lake to the northwest amid forested green hills is The Mount, (pictured here) home of Mrs. Edith Wharton, the celebrated novelist. Henry James was a frequent guest here.

US 20 gives glimpses of Mt. Stockbridge and Mt. Baldhead (L); far across Lake Mahkeenac (L), 49.9 m., is the red-roofed castle like villa in which Andrew Carnegie was living when he died in 1919. It is now a Jesuit novitiate, Shadowbrook.

Lenox, 51.8 m. (see Tour 17), is at the junction with US 7 with which US 20 unites, to Pittsfield, 58.4 m.
(TheOldLibrarian - from Tour 17) Lenox, (pop. 2706, sett. about 1750), was named for Charles Lenox, Duke of Richmond, a defender of Colonial rights. Industries in town included an iron foundry, marble works..., but today only two tobacco mills operate. The town early became a summer resort with fine hotels and magnificent homes.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Springfield to US 7 cont.

US 20, northwest of East Lee, parallels the Housatonic and threads its way among the fertile fields and rich farms. (Pictured here: early filling station in Lee.)

Lee, 46.6 m. (pop. 4178, sett. 1760), named for General Charles Lee, later notorious for his treason to Washington, is a prosporous paper manufacturing town... It is said that one half of the paper used in cigarettes during the World War was made in Lee.

The slender spired Congregational Church, built in 1857, has walls and ceilings decorated by an itinerant German painter in true fresco. The white marble Public Library occupies the site of the log house where the original settlers held their first town meetings.

On Orchard St. is the entrance to Ferncliff, an evergreen-crowned eminence, on the northwest slope of which is Peter's Cave, where Peter Wilcox, condemned to die for his participation in Shay's Rebellion, hid for a time. He was captured, but eventually was pardoned.

Left from the village on West Park St., across the river, at 0.4 m., a road runs left to the Lime and Marble Quarries that supplied marble for the capitol at Washington... The small mill nearby has cut thousands of headstones for the graves of soldiers buried in Arlington Cemetery.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Springfield to US 7 cont.

Tyringham, 5.1 m. (pop. 243, sett. 1735.)... was bought from the Stockbridge Indians. It was named Tyringham at the suggestion of Lord Howe, who owned an estate in Tyringham, England. Maple sugar-making was learned here from the Indians...

At the Center is a brick smokestack beside the brook, all that remains of a flourishing paper mill of the 1850s.

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), lived in Tyringham during the summer of 1903, and presented the library with a complete set of his books.

Left from US 20, State 102 crosses the Housatonic River at 0.2 m. and swings through an Italian colony...

Straight ahead rises the long, lofty ridge of Beartown Mountain, for years the home of a hermit known as Beartown Beebe, whose weather predictions were published in many metropolitan dailies. The lowlands along the highway are called the Hoplands because of wild hops that grow beside the books and river...

South Lee, 2.4 m., lies beside the Housatonic River at the foot of high, forest covered hills and mountains. Spanning the river is a Covered Bridge. Left from South Lee, 0.5 m. on a dirt road are the scientifically constructed Beartown Mountain Ski Trails...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Springfield to US 7 cont.

US 20 skirts the hill-banked shores of Greenwater Pond and traverses a narrow plain flanked by partly cleared mountain slopes.

At 42.1 m. is... visible (R) a distant mountain range, with October Mountain the most prominent peak.

East Lee, 44.5 m., was formerly a prosporous mill village, utilizing water-power from Greenwater Brook.

At 45.7 m. is the junction with State 102 and an unnumbered road. Left on this... road, through the 'hidden vale of Tyringham,' at 3.4 m., built of stone and wood, with tapering towers, in landscaped gardens, is the home of the sculptor, Henry Hudson Kitson.

Across the valley at 4.4 m. (R) are visible the wooded slopes of Mt. Horeb, on which is Fernside, a former Shaker community... It is said that true Shakers believed that there was an invisible tabernacle here in the midst of a beautiful garden where all kinds of fruit grew in abundance.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Springfield to US 7 cont.

At 31.5 m. is the blue-gray quarry region - home of Becket's early industry. Blocks of this colorful stone are seen along the roadway.

At 32.5 m. is the foot of Jacob's Ladder; the climbing highway opens up many vistas of beautiful mountain country.

At 33.1 m. on a small plateau lies Bonny Rigg Four Corners (alt. 1400), a famous old stagecoach crossroads from which State 8 (see Tour 21) runs right. (Pictured here.)

US 20 rises steadily by a series of steep hills, passing many small clearings in the woods (deer-hunting in season; picnic tables, parking places).

At 34.9 m. is Jacob's Well (R) a wayside spring dating from ox-cart days. Near the top of the Ladder new ofrests of white pine are slowly restoring the richness of the woodland, damaged by an ice storm in 1920.

At 35.4 m. (alt. 2100), at the summit of the pass (picnic and camping), is a wooden Tower (fee 10 cents) affording an extensive view...

Us 20 drops gradually down into a marshy valley where lies Shaw Pond (camping); along its western bank, off State 8, is a thriving cottage colony.

At 38.6 m. is the junction (L) with State 8.

At 39.8 ,. US 20 passes through the cutaway embankment of the Berkshire Street Railway, and continues through wild country the chief crop of which was once huckleberries.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Springfield to US 7 cont.

Chester, 28.9 m. ( pop. 1363, sett. 1760), was incorporated as Murrayfield, in honor of John Murray, treasurer of the proprietors. Ten years later the citizens voted to change the name, apparently as a result of his Tory sympathies. When Murray left the country in 1778, he was forbidden to return.

Agriculture, including the production of maple sugar..., and the mining of mica, emery, and corundum have been the chief occupations of the people...

Beyond (W) the town hall is a high promontory called Big Rock, providing a good view; here are the entrances to some of the old emery mines. The Hamiliton Emery and Corundum Plant, Middlefield Rd., is one of the oldest and most important manufacturers of emery in the country.

Right from Chester on Middlefield Rd. to a trail at 1.3 m.; left on this to the summit of Mt. Gobble (alt. 1600). The ascent is faciliated at intervals by a stairway...