Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Original Whiting Street Reservoir Road

(top photo courtesy of the Holyoke History Room)

Pictured is the old Whiting Street Reservoir Road. The original road was located to the right of what is now the entrance to Kenilworth Apartments off of Route 5. and ran across an area that is now Route 91 to what is now Aerator Road leading to the reservoir.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pictures On The Way To Mt. Holyoke Summit

The road to the summit is closed during the winter months so it's a couple of miles up to the top,
i was going to take the Halfway Trail located near the Halfway Barn at the base of the mountain
but the trail was under a lot of snow, anyway the walk to the summit was a little challenging but very enjoyable. 

Mt. Holyoke Summit House Deck

Some Views From The Mt. Holyoke Summit

Mt. Holyoke Summit

The Billy Goat skipped across the Connecticut River recently to take a hike up to Mt. Holyoke located on the Holyoke Range in Hadley. 

Here are a few pictures of the Summit House atop Mt. Holyoke. The history of the Summit House goes back to 1821 when it was a guest cabin of 18x 24 ft. eventually becoming a two story eight room hotel by the mid 1800s complete with a tramway that guests took to the summit.

It continued to be a very popular spot up until around the Great Hurricane of 1938 when it suffered extensive damage, (the tram was in use till around 1942 when it broke down and was never repaired despite proposals to do so, it was finally demolished in 1965).

The Summit House was finally restored in the early eighties and now is open for tours and special events during the late spring till early fall.

When one compares the Mt. Holyoke Summit House with the Summit House that was once atop Mt. Tom and the Eyrie House that was atop Mt. Nonotuck, you wouldn't have thought
this one would of outlived the other two, this one didn't have certain logistics the other two had, first of all the Eyrie House was nearer the Connecticut River and had a railroad and main route below it, while the Mt. Tom Summit House had the trolley park and the city of Holyoke nearby, yet this one flourished and still flourishes while the other two are now a memory.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mater Dolorosa Winter Bazaar

The Billy Goat came down the mountain on Saturday to enjoy the Mater Dolorosa parish's annual mid-winter bazaar that is being held this Saturday and Sunday Feb. 14 & 15 from 11:00 am till 8:00 pm at the Pope John Paul II Social Center on Kolbe Drive in Holyoke.

Among the festivities were a Tag sale & Bake sale, numerous games of chance and raffles for the adults, and fun times for the children. 

The Social Center's kitchen prepared some delicious Polish cuisine including Pierogies, Golumkies, Kielbasa, and Kapusta along with some delicious desserts and beverages.

If you happen to be in the area, drop in for some fine food and fun!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mount Tom Ski Area

It's been ten years since the Mt. Tom Ski Area has been closed but it's slopes are still very active,
though the area appears to be desolate, take a real good look and you might catch a skier coming down one of the main trails.  Here on a recent visit,  pictured is a lone skier making his way up
the old Lower Tom Slope (sorry the T-Bar is out of order)

Kenilworth Castle: Today!!!

In 1971, on the castle grounds were constructed the Kenilworth Castle Hill Apartments.
The operation got of to a very shaky start, and was in serious financial trouble from the outset, originally there was to be 186 units built on the property, but were never realized past the 56 units that are there today.
I've include a few pictures, notice the remains of what's left of the original grounds.

The property is currently owned by real estate developer and area businessman Eric Suher.

I had the pleasure of meeting Eric on the grounds when these pictures were taken, Eric as you may know, also owns the former Mountain Park located just up the road from Kenilworth.

Talking to Mr. Suher, he expressed his desire to re create the atmosphere of the old park,
which, like to many others, was a very special place for him growing up.

While snapping a few pictures, i asked him about his plans for the former amusment park, he told me that it's no secret of his plans to build a music venue on the site, plans that also include rebuilding The Stardust Ballroom which many of you remember as a very popular dance hall of the 50s and 60s, many acts such as the Beach Boys, Yardbirds, and Animals played there at it's height in the mid 1960s before a tragic fire ended it's run in the early 1970s.

As for the recent criticism of his restoration work on the Mountain Park grounds Suher stated
"I had to do what was needed, removal of all debris, and overgrown brush, done properly to restore the area to it's natural beauty"

Asked if the media is treating him unfairly Suher added "Most of the people who are spreading 
these rumors don't even know what (the situation there) it's all about... most weren't even around to experience Mountain Park..." 

I came away from my conversation with Eric Suher pretty excited about the future of Mt. Park, he was very sincere and honest in his plans to restore the park.  I think we have a lot to look forward to.

Kenilworth Castle: Yesterday...

In 1894 a wealthy Holyoke paper industry mogul named E.C .Taft purchased some farmland off Route 5 and began construction of Kenilworth Castle. Before construction, Taft had a knoll built so the castle could sit high above the surrounding landscapes and structures. Construction was completed in 1895

Taft, who was the founder of the Albion Paper Co. had an exclusive residence in the city of Holyoke on Elm Street in Holyoke and intended Kenilworth as a summer home. The castle had twelve rooms though appeared to be much bigger. Taft was known for his world travel and furnished the castle with many paintings, sculpture and furniture from all around the globe.

In late 1897, Taft decided to sell his Elm Street property and make Kenilworth his permanant residence, but after one week there, Taft died.

In the fall of 1897 his daughter Lucretia moved into the castle with her husband William Flagg
who was the owner of the Holyoke Democratic, a city newspaper. In 1941 William Flagg took his own life following a long illness and Lucretia lived there until her own death in early 1957.

In 1959, the Hadley Falls Trust Co. who was in charge of Mrs. Flagg's estate, sold the property to the Holyoke Water Power Company with hopes of building a power station on the land.
After it was decided too expensive a project, the Water Power decided to move it's offices there, this idea also was scrapped.

So after after a few other proposals including turning the castle into a museum, and after the building's structure was deem unsound, the castle was demolished in December of 1959.

Though the castle is long gone, some of it's artifacts are still around, including a stained glass window and bar at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a fireplace located at the Log Cabin Restaurant, and a
piano that's now located in San Francisco. For more on this piano check out this link: