For Edith Taskin, Lillian Glickman, and my mom Lorraine Maloney for their dedication to keeping the history of North Adams alive. For Roger Rivers, Edmond Trudeau, and Stephen Boisvert who are no longer with us but will always inspire me. For the North Adams Historical Society for sharing their collection with all who visit, and Gene and Justyna Carlson for all they do. And to my family, and especially my husband Gene, for all their love and support.
Table of Contents
4. Nature in Our Backyard 5. Weather 6. Natural Bridge 7. Hoosic River, Windsor Lake 8. Mohawk Trail 9. Fort Massachusetts 10. Early Settlers 11. Jeremiah Colgrove 12. Farming 13. A Community of Hard Working People 14. Stores 15. Hoosac Tunnel 16. North Adams 1896 17. James Hunter Machine Company 18. North Adams Brick Company 19. Brick Making 20. Cutting's Store 21. Arnold Print Works 22. Italian Americans 23. French Canadians 24. Welsh 25. Chinese
26. Sprague Electric Company 27. Wall Streeter Shoe Company 28. North Adams Public Library 29. Schools 30. Recreation 31. Military 32. Veterans 33. Influential People 34. Shaping the Future 35. North Adams Hospital 36. Our Community 37. Vocabulary 38. Resources
Nature in Our Backyard The Northern Berkshire Mountains were once part of an ocean. Over time, beaches were turned to sandstone. The intense heat and pressure turned the sandstone into quartzite. Marine animals built coral reefs. Eventually the clear water began to dry and was replaced by mud. Shellfish couldn't survive and over many years turned to limestone. Some of the limestone re-crystallized under the pressure and turned to marble.
Over 350 million years ago, the continents began to shift from pressure beneath the surface. At a very slow pace the shale was pushed. It gradually came up over the rocks, and mud began to cover the coral and the beaches. The huge ripples in the land that were caused by the pressure would eventually become the Appalachian Mountain Range.
Mt. Greylock continued to be pushed upward getting taller and taller. Then erosion began to wear away the mountain. Rain falling became streams, and those streams washed some of the soil and rock down the mountain. Today Mt. Greylock, the tallest mountain peak in Massachusetts, is 3,491 feet above sea level. There are many trails for hiking on Mt. Greylock and the surrounding area. Learn more!
Plants Plants include many common and rare plant species such as hepaticas, white Canada violets, purple and yellow violets, red trillium, trout lilies, and Dutchman's breeches to name a few. Trees include sugar maple, beech, birch, black cherry, basswood, white ash, and poplar. Raspberries, blueberries, and chokecherries grow wild as well.
Mammals Mammals in the Berkshires include: turkey, deer, gray and red squirrel, raccoon, cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare, opossum, red fox, skunk, porcupine, short-tailed weasel, mink, woodchuck, chipmunk, porcupine, fisher, bobcat, coyote, and black bear.
This area is home to many bird species including Robins, House Wrens, Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles, Ruby throated Hummingbirds, Chickadees, Red-breasted Grosbeaks, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, and many others.
North Adams was often flooded. Early records in the 1800's show the entire Main Street area under water, homes and businesses washed away. There were major floods in 1869, 1927, 1936, 1938, and in 1948. In 1948 Mayor James Bowes pushed for earlier plans for flood control to move forward. In the 1950's the flood control chutes were finally built to protect the city from severe damage.
Eagle Street, 1927 Flood (above)
River Street - 1927 Flood
The Hoosic River overflowed its banks many times causing a lot of damage to homes and businesses. Concrete flood control chutes were put in through the city center in the 1950's. Photo above is during construction of the chutes.
Storm of the Century
Summer Street - Blizzard of 1888
Snow began falling on Sunday, March 11, 1888, and didn't stop until four days later. A total of 37 inches fell during the storm. Strong winds blew at speeds between 30 and 40 miles an hour.
In the 1940’s the mill produced 200 tons of marble a day. The business was closed after a fire burned down the mill in 1947. The property was then sold to a couple who ran it as a tourist attraction. In 1984 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts purchased it for Natural Bridge State Park.
Natural Bridge Natural Bridge in North Adams is a crescent shaped wall. To get a good view you have to descend a small set of stairs. The deposits of limestone lifted and folded under heat and pressure causing it to crystallize into marble. At the end of the last ice age, 13,000 years ago, melting glaciers formed the bridge. Water rushing through carried minerals that reacted with the calcium carbonate in the marble and eroded it away forming the marble bridge we call Natural Bridge.
In 1810 companies began quarrying the marble. The stone was used for cemetery monuments, storefronts, fireplace mantels, and hearths. The powder from the stone was used in toothpaste, makeup, and paint. The big marble dam that you see near the footpath was built in the early 1800’s to use the water power to run a mill that could cut the marble slabs.
How is Marble Formed?
Marble is a metamorphic rock. If limestone is exposed to high temperatures and pressures, it changes to marble. The variety of colors you see in the marble are from the impurities that are mixed in during its formation.
The Marble Quarry
Did you know? Author Nathaniel Hawthorne visited Natural Bridge on August 17, 1883, and was inspired by the natural beauty of the area. He wrote "It is strange to see such a rough stream subdued to the purposes of man, making cottons, woolens, sawing boards and marble, and giving employment to women and men. There is a picturesqueness in finding these factories in the midst of wild scenery."
Limestone and Marble The marble quarry in North Adams is closed. There are large deposits of limestone in Adams where a quarry is still in operation today. You can see the ledge of white rock on the mountainside as you drive through Adams.