J. A. Skinner State Park
|J. A. Skinner State Park|
|Massachusetts State Park|
The Summit House
|Towns||Hadley, South Hadley|
|Elevation||443 ft (135 m) |
|Highest point||Mount Holyoke |
|- elevation||896 ft (273 m) |
|Lowest point||East bank of Connecticut River |
|- elevation||108 ft (33 m)|
|Area||843 acres (341 ha) |
|Management||Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation|
|Website: Skinner State Park|
Joseph Allen Skinner State Park is a state-owned, public recreation area located in the towns of Hadley and South Hadley in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts. The state park surrounds Mount Holyoke, the westernmost peak of the Mount Holyoke Range. At the summit is the historic Prospect House, an old hotel first opened in 1851. The park is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
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.
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 would become a state park bearing his name. The formal dedication was held in June 1940.
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. The building was reopened for tours following restoration work performed in 2014.
Activities and amenities
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. It is accessible from Rt 47 in Hadley. The Summit House offers summertime concerts sponsored by the Friends of the Mt. Holyoke Range.
- Hockanum Rural Historic District, a National Register district which includes the Hadley portion of the park
- "Skinner State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- "Resource Management Plan: Mount Holyoke Range Planning Unit" (PDF). Department of Conservation and Recreation. July 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
- "Mount Holyoke". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- "2012 Acreage Listing" (PDF). Department of Conservation and Recreation. April 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
- "Mount Holyoke Historical Timeline". Retrieved January 19, 2014.
- "Skinner State Park". MassParks. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
- "Skinner State Park: A Virtual Tour". Retrieved January 19, 2014.
- "Summer Concert Series". Friends of Mt. Holyoke Range. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Skinner State Park.|