Saturday, January 16, 2016

Trolley Line Trail in Stockbridge

For about 50 years, from the 1880s through the 1920s, public passenger transportation--trolley lines--flourished in Berkshire County. In 1901 the Berkshire Street Railway was formed, and planned and executed a line the full length of the county. Over the years the Berkshire Street Railway bought up other small lines, consolidating them into a four-state empire. But as the automobile became more available and popular, ridership declined and its last line ceased operation in 1932.

In time, the trolley tracks were pulled up and became overgrown. But many have been kept open as local walking trails such as the one along the Williams River in Housatonic and West Stockbridge. I recently came across one in Stockbridge that goes from Mohawk Lake to Glendale Road. I've traversed it several times lately and love marveling at the construction and history. As I walked along the trail in the woods, I half expected a phantom trolley car to come clanking up behind me!

As we passed Mohawk Lake, my friend Michael recounted that as a child he remembers being at this lake in winter and watching men cut ice and pack it in sawdust in the nearby ice house. This was the about 1950 and his mother still had an icebox in the kitchen that needed a big block of ice delivered to the house frequently. He lived, by the way, in the center of Stockbridge, not in the isolated countryside. Times have changed, haven't they!

Here's the cut through a rock hill.

Quite an undertaking. Seems to me like major-earth moving for its day.

I loved the ice on the rock face formed from water oozing out of the rock.


The snow was perfect for showing track definition in this squirrel imprint.
We also saw turkey, deer, rabbit, coyote, bobcat, and maybe fisher tracks.

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