Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wachusett Reservation & Ski Area

The Billy Goat was recently out to Wachusett Reservation and Ski Area on Wachusett Mountain in Princeton MA, and it brought to mind what we used to have in our own backyard here at Mt.Tom (though the peace, and serenity on the old ski area trails is a much better alternative).

The reservation consists of 17 miles of trails including 3.9 miles of the Midstate Trail that runs from Ashburnham to the Rhode Island border. The mountain's summit is 2006 ft. giving a spectacular view of the Berkshires to the west and the Boston skyline to the east. also a wonderful view of Mt.Monadnock in New Hampshire.

The ski area at Wachusett has twenty trails, 111 acres of terrain, and a 1000 ft. vertical drop that makes for some exciting skiing, they also have six lifts including two high speed quad chair lifts to get you back up the mountain fast. 

Here's a link on the unique snow making pond at the base of the mountain:

If you plan on visiting, here's some directions:
Take Rt 202 North to Rt. 2 East, Rt. 2 to Exit 25 (Rt. 140 south). Follow Rt. 140 south for 2 miles. Turn Right onto Mile Hill Road. Follow Mile Hill Road for 1/2 mile to split in road. Take Left Fork onto Mountain Road. Follow Mountain Road 1 1/4 miles to top of hill. Reservation entrance is on the Right. Visitor center entrance is immediately on the Left after entering Reservation.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Some More Water Station Pictures

A few more pics, don't know what that orb is in the third picture, but it wasn't in my view finder when i took the pic, there are a couple in one of the previous photos also,
perhaps rain drops on the lens. (OR GHOSTS!!!)

Mountain Park Pump Station Uncovered!!!

Last week the Billy Goat was talking to Pete, the old-timer that walks the Mountain Park access road, and the subject of the old Mountain Park water pump station came up.

He had said that the station had been hidden in the brush for years near the location of the old Casino and had been long forgotten.

Well, i was coming back from a hike from the summit and decided to go down the Ski Area road and noticed Wagner Wood who is clearing brush and chopping trees for Eric Suher's amphitheater had uncovered the Station.

It sure saved me a lot of work trekking thru the woods, though the mud was ankle deep
when i went down to the area to take pictures.

I don't know too much of the history of this building, but Pete had mentioned that it pumped water up to Mountain Park for it's sanitary needs in the early 1900s.

Also uncovered was what appeared to be part of the foundation of the old Mountain Park Playhouse ( i will post a few pictures of the foundation in the future), though i'm not sure if this is what it really is.

As for the water station, i will visit the Holyoke History Room to see if i can find additional info on it, and will post any new information in the future.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Mt. Tom Power Plant

The Billy Goat recently paid a visit to the Mt.Tom power plant but couldn't gain access,
turns out the security guard is a real DUMMY, and one of their employees was SHORT on help. i did manage a couple of "outside the fence" shots.

The Mt. Tom Power Plant is situated on an 80-acre tract of scenic woodland lying between Mt. Tom and an S-curve in the Connecticut River, a few miles north of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Remote from urban or industrial development, it seems an unlikely location for a power plant, but in this instance appearances are deceiving.

The location has important advantages. It is convenient both to railroad lines, over which fuel for the plant is brought in, and to transmission lines, over which the power generated by the plant is dispatched throughout the region. The Connecticut River provides make-up water for the plant's steam cycle. Approximately 1.1 million pounds of high pressure steam per hour passes through the steam turbine and is condensed back into water to repeat the cycle. The river also easily provides the 90,000 gallons of cooling water pumped every minute through the condenser and back into the river, warmer than before but harmless to the environment.

A distinctive feature of the Mt. Tom plant is its "outdoor" boiler structure, an all-weather design representing a considerable cost saving through the elimination of conventional outer walls. The 163-foot high (13 story) boiler section is encased only by its structural steel framework. Less obvious is the elevation of the plant site and all major equipment to a level well above that reached by the river in the flood of 1936, when the utility's Riverside Station was flooded as 16.8 feet of water passed over the dam in Holyoke.

The Mt. Tom Power Plant went into service in 1960 as a coal-fired unit. In 1970, because of new air quality regulations and for reasons of economy, the plant was converted to burn oil. In 1981, because of the uncertainty of oil supplies, as well as oil's escalating price, Mt. Tom was converted back to coal. New state-of-the-art pollution control equipment has been installed to meet current environmental regulations.

Mt. Tom burns about 1,200 tons of coal daily and has on-site storage space for about 150,000 tons. Coal is delivered by rail cars, which arrive at the station in 80-car trains. The generating capacity of 146,000 kilowatts is enough to meet the electrical demand of a city more than twice the size of Holyoke. (Info courtesy of First Light Power Resources)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Rides Of Mt. Park Live On!

When Arnolds Park in Iowa needed parts to refurbish their roller coaster, they turned to Mt. Park which was selling off their rides due to the closing of the park.

Pictured are the Mt. Park Flyer cars that have a new lease on life, along with the Kiddie Coaster that was also purchased and restored.

Another of Mt. Park's most popular rides was the Dodgems, they are now at Coney Island.

Mt. Park Rides Live On At Other Amusement Parks

Although It's been 20 plus years since the closing of Mt. Park in Holyoke Ma., the park's rides live on bringing joy to many adults and children. Here are some of the rides that visitors to Mt. Park will remember.

The Ferris Wheel, Train (once known as the Mt. Park Zephyr), Tilt-A-Whirl, and kiddie rides such as the Taxis, Fire Trucks and the Pony Ride can still be enjoyed at Sanspit Amusement Park in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

The once popular Tempest is now owned by Fannelli Amusements and visits carnivals around the Northeastern United States.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Toonerville Trolley: Then & Now

Since seeing WGGBY's documentary "Mountain Park Memories" and the snippet of footage of the Toonerville Trolley, it's brought back a lot of memories of this crazy ride.
The Toonerville Trolley (which was designed after the newspaper cartoon) was located opposite the Kiddie Cadillac  Mass. Turnpike ride, and i don't recall if the Trolley co-existed with those little hand-powered train cars that were also in this area in the early sixties, (these are the train cars that once were located near the Roller Coaster entrance in the fifties.) The trolley ride was tough on the kidneys, moving along a jagged rail that produced a "zig zag" effect, causing the riders to be tossed around in their seats, if that wasn't enough, the ride was accompanied by a clanging bell that added to the kaos. Pictured here is the Trolley in the early sixties (photo courtesy of the Holyoke History Room) and what the area looks like in 2008. Notice after all these years, the old electrical post is still standing,
and the fence surrounding the area is still there.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mt. Tom Summit House Pump Station

Nestled in the Mt. Tom Reservation is the remains of the old Summit House pump station, the station pumped water from a reservoir that used to be on top of the range
near Dead Top peak to the Mt. Tom Summit House. The pump house and reservoir are located off the MM trail about a mile north of the Mt. Tom summit. Here are a few pictures of the pump house and reservoir.

I found a trail that leads to the Pump Station that starts at the B-17 Memorial that's located on
the Trolley (WGGB) Road that leads to the Mt. Tom summit.

Here are the directions:
Take the Mt. Park access road to Mountain Park , after driving over the Interstate 91 overpass, there will be a road to your right (it has a yellow gate) travel this road till you get to a power grid on your left, just pass the grid will be the trolley road (there's a sign that reads B-17 Memorial, the no trespassing sign only applies to vehicles) travel this road about a half mile and on your right you will see a path lined with birch trees and american flags leading to the B-17 Memorial, right behind the flagpole of the Memorial you will find a trail marked with orange/red trees (take your time looking for the orange/red markings on the trees, if you have difficulty, follow the brook to the left of the trail), follow this trail west for about a quarter mile and you will come to the Pump Station.
Behind the Pump Station is a pond with a concrete dam (fourth picture), if you travel behind the pond north, you will find old piping that will lead you to the Summit Reservoir, from the reservoir you can see the communication tower located on Dead Top peak (see bottom picture)
If you follow the orange/red marked trail from the Pump Station west, it will take you to the MM trail that runs north/south along the top of the range. If you continue on the trail to the MM, remember the location for future hiking, this way if you hike the MM trail in the future, you will know where the trail is that leads to the Pump Station and to the B-17 Memorial.

Recent Photos Of Mt. Park Ballroom & Golf Course

(CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR LARGER IMAGE) Here is what's left of the Mt. Park Ballroom and Golf Course, notice the stairs that lead to the Ballroom have been taken out along with the concrete slab that was once the Ballroom floor, also the the familiar stairway overpass that was used to cross over the old Mt.Park Zephyr train tracks along with the tunnels are now history, the mound of debris is all that's left of the Golf Course.

The Mt. Park Lumber Yard

The workers doing the cutting are using the old "fireworks" field for their "lumber yard",
i wonder if they will use the lumber in the building of the theatre?