J. A. Skinner State Park

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J.A. Skinner State Park
Massachusetts State Park
The Summit House at Skinner State Park, South Hadley MA.jpg
The Summit House
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Hampshire
Town Hadley
Elevation 443 ft (135 m) [1]
Coordinates 42°18′16″N 72°35′18″W / 42.30444°N 72.58833°W / 42.30444; -72.58833Coordinates: 42°18′16″N 72°35′18″W / 42.30444°N 72.58833°W / 42.30444; -72.58833 [1]
Area 843 acres (341 ha) [2]
Established 1940
Management Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
Location in Massachusetts
Website: Skinner State Park

Joseph Allen Skinner State Park is located on Mount Holyoke, the western-most peak of the Mount Holyoke Range located in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts. It is accessible from Rt 47 in Hadley, Massachusetts. At the summit is the historic Prospect House, an old hotel first opened in 1851.[3][4]


In its heyday, a steamer would pick up guests at the Smiths Ferry railroad station across the Connecticut River in what was then Northampton, ferrying them to a tramway leading to the Half Way House. From there guests could take a steep inclined tram to the summit. The Prospect House, under the proprietorship of John and Fanny French, was expanded twice, first in 1861 and nearly doubled in size with the construction of an annex in 1894.[5]

In 1908 the property was sold to the Mt. Holyoke Hotel Company. This corporation was formed by Joseph Skinner, a local industrialist, L. Treadway of Treadway Inn fame, and Christopher Clarke to hold the land in trust for an eventual state reservation. The hotel continued operation until the Great Hurricane of 1938 badly damaged the 1894 annex, which was subsequently demolished. Soon after this, Joseph Allan Skinner offered to donate the hotel and the surrounding land to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on the condition it became a state park named after him. The formal dedication was held in June 1940.[5]

State funds for maintenance of the summit house and tramway during the intervening years were inadequate. The remains of the tramway were removed in 1964 and by the mid-1970s there were proposals to condemn and demolish the summit house. This led to a public outcry and in the mid-1980s the Summit House, consisting of the original 1851 structure and the 1861 addition, was restored by the State. For a time, the Summit House was open on weekends and for special events sponsored by the Friends of the Mt. Holyoke Range (FOMHR).[5]

As of 2014, it remains closed for repairs.[4]

Activities and amenities[edit]

The park offers scenic views, picnicking, and over 40 miles (64 km) of trails including an 11-mile (18 km) stretch of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Skinner State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ "2012 Acreage Listing". Department of Conservation and Recreation. April 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Mount Holyoke Historical Timeline". Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Skinner State Park". MassParks. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Skinner State Park: A Virtual Tour". Retrieved January 19, 2014. 

External links[edit]