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Prospect House, Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Mass.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The view from the summit of Mount Holyoke made it an important tourist destination in the 1800's. A group of business men from Northampton built a small cabin on the summit in 1821. Visitors could not only take shelter there but also enjoyed "refreshments of every kind." In 1829, the cabin was bought by John and Fanny French, who replaced it with a small hotel named the Prospect House. The hotel had a dining room, rooms for overnight guests, and an observatory which had a 60-power telescope. This postcard shows Prospect House with the original building and the 1861 addition. You can also see the roof of the covered tram which ran from the half-way house to the summit. French built the first tram in New England in 1854 to bring water and supplies to the hotel. He soon realized that the tram could also provide transportation for people. The tram gained 360 feet of elevation over its 600 foot length, which gives the sensation of going almost straight up. The tram was enclosed with a roof and walls in 1867. It was in operation until 1941. The Prospect House was purchased by Joseph Skinner in the early 1900's. He donated the hotel and property to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a state park in 1939.


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