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"Views On And About Mt. Tom And Of Mt.Tom Railroad"
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The idea of a mountain house was pioneered simultaneously in the Hudson River Valley with the Catskill Mountain House in 1825 and in the Connecticut River Valley with the Mt. Holyoke House that same year. Most other nearby peaks gained their own mountain (or summit) houses, including Mt. Nonotuck in 1861 and Mt. Sugarloaf in 1864. Mt. Tom, which rises above the towns of Holyoke and Northampton, was late to gain its own mountain house. Part of the reason was the geography of the mountain which did not allow for an easily accessed site. The first summit house, described in this publication, was built on Mt. Tom in the spring of 1897. It was a grander structure than those on nearby mountains, lit by electric lights and served by a new electric railroad. In 1898 a huge searchlight drew additional attention to Mt. Tom. In 1900 an electrical fire led to its complete destruction but it was immediately rebuilt, replaced by one that was somewhat taller and slightly wider. A new mountain home opened in 1901 and lasted until 1929, when it too, burned. A temporary structure was built, but the advent of the automobile and the Great Depression led to its death in 1938, when it was sold for scrap.
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