Mt Holyoke Summit – ThursdayDoors

Hiking up to the Summit House from the parking area.

Note: WordPress has stopped sending me notifications of updates to any of the blogs I follow. I am trying to find your recent posts, but it’s a slow process.

Last week, I featured buildings and doors from Mount Holyoke College. Today, I’m sharing some doors from the trip to the summit of Mount Holyoke, the college’s namesake. As with the hike to the summit of nearby Mt. Tom, the initial purpose of my drive – yes, there’s an “autoroad” – was to see if I could get an aerial view of the Holyoke canal system. And, as with the hike to the summit of Mt. Tom, I wasn’t able to, but the experience was wonderful. The added benefit of the Mount Holyoke summit trip was the presence of doors.

Doors are the subject of this post. Each week, Norm Frampton sends a call out to door lovers around the world. He invites us to bring our doors to his site so that we can share them. If you have doors to share, or simply want to see additional doors, please visit his site.

Mount Holyoke is not the highest peak in the Holyoke range. It is the western and southern most peak. At 935′ (285m) it is about 200’ lower than Mount Norwottuck. The mountain range ends at the Connecticut River which separates the Holyoke range from the Mount Tom range.

In the mid-to-late 1800s, it was popular to construct summit houses, lodges and hotels at the summit of peaks throughout New England. Both Mount Holyoke and Mount Tom had summit houses. The one on Mount Tom burned (a common fate). The one on Mount Holyoke survived, that is to say, it escaped being burned. The summit house was acquired and expanded by John French who lived there until his death in 1891. In order to make the summit house more accessible, and to make it possible to deliver supplies, including water, to the house, John French constructed a 600′ 0″(182.88m) incline railroad that ran from a camp near the halfway point up the mountain to the basement of the lodge.

Despite the improvements, mountain-top summit houses became less popular in the early part of the 20th century as travel options expanded. The summit house was eventually acquired in 1915, by wealthy Holyoke silk manufacturer Joseph Skinner. He improved the building, but interest in these facilities continued to wane. The Great Depression only made the problem worse. In 1938, a hurricane caused substantial damage to the building, resulting in the demolition of the most recent addition.

Skinner requested that the State of Massachusetts get involved and support the hotel and the area as a park, but the state was not interested. Skinner donated the hotel and its property to the state in 1939, with the land becoming the Joseph Allen Skinner State Park. The state had little interest in the buildings and facilities. The incline railroad last ran in the 1940s. It was demolished after being damaged in a heavy snowstorm. The railway was removed in 1965. The summit house was about to meet the same fate, but the state decided to restore it instead. It now serves as a museum.

The summit house has been closed this entire season due to the corona virus. Fortunately, the restrooms were open. I was able to walk around the outside of the building and take in the wonderful view. The gallery includes some of those sights, as well as a few historic images and, of course, some doors.


  1. Incredible photos, Dan. The incline railway photo brought back memories of similar structures I experienced in Italy. How ingenious! Thank you for the journey, always appreciated.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Ever since the new Editor came in (just like every time WP updates and improves a program) people start getting various glitches.
    Your pictures are incredible. They really make me homesick for up north!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Loved this! It’s exactly the type of place we look to visit, history and nature. You can’t beat that combination.
    As for the notifications that’s annoying. Try unfollowing and the following again. Sometimes that acts as a reset.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fabulous pictures. The incline railway was a clever idea. That’s some rugged looking terrain. Glad they preserved the engine.

    Great aerial shots…..especially capturing the bird in flight. Beautiful view overlooking the Connecticut River.

    Thanks for including us on your tour. I love it when you do all the grunt work while I sit here having my cup of tea!! Do I know how to travel or what?! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The hike up is amazing. I’m not sure that I’m onboard with the blue trim on that white building. The blue looks like painters’ tape to me.

    [I use Feedly to follow blogs. I find it easy to keep track of everyone there. FWIW.]


  6. What splendid views, Dan. I like the blue trim and rounded shapes on either side of the ballroom doors. I imagine those open (or used to)… maybe big open windows to cool things off for dancers back in the day. It must have been a happy place in its heyday. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. What a beautiful area, Dan. I guess I was surprised that the house was closed but the restrooms were open. Very thoughtful of them. Your photo of the bird is beautiful! Good luck with the HE jumping in to help you receive notifications. And we pay for this…..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great views from up top. Why does everything look so much more peaceful when viewed from above?
    Those dark red doors sure stand out against the white with blue trim. Looks like an interesting place to visit when it’s open and thank goodness they had they sense to keep the washrooms accessible..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Curious and interesting. What once was viable is now just a memory. The logistics of getting people and supplies to the top of a mountain do not fit in today’s economy. Still a great destination for a hike. What do you use for notification of posts on WP ? The follow option where emails appear in your email inbox ? I am currently using the ‘list’ to notify me of posts. It is having its own set of problems. While it is currently notifying me of new posts or at least some new posts it too is broken. I can no longer add new blogs to the list nor can I edit or view the list. I wonder how long it will take the Happiness managers and engineers to figure out this could be important. In the meantime it is possible to work backwards from the ‘like’ listing at the end of our blogs. I have started compiling a listing in notepad. It is klutzy and I think I am going to switch to something that keeps the active link. Something like a notepad + or a spreadsheet that keeps the link embedded in the URL name. Technology is our friend. And other days like the inclined railway it is not inclined to function properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks John. I do use the email notification method. I’m getting notices of likes and when people like a comment that I leave. I’m falling back on the Reader for now. I’m hoping the Happyfolk can climb to the summit of this mess, look down and see what’s wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. That looked like a nice little hike to the top!

    There seems to be mixed feelings about the rounded shapes trimmed in blue flanking the ballroom doors. I really like them. Upon first glance they reminded me of owl eyes. Strange, I know, but they still do 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Dan. I saw that you followed Beach Walk Reflections, so I wandered over. I see John Howell is our common link, so thanks for giving me a chance. Beautiful pics here. Besides, doors are always wonderful topic – and of course I will have a beach walk about them.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This was a terrific doors post, Dan. I wonder what it’s like to be the ranger living in the halfway house. The incline railway shows how rugged the mountain is. I always breathe a sigh of relief when an important historical structure is preserved.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. There was a documentary about this and all their famous visitors that I watched on PBS – cannot recall the name. What a place! The site of one of the first mountaintop hotels in the United States – breathtaking!


  14. Ballroom entrance – looks amazing … glad you could drive up now … but it’d have been great to have kept the other ways up … still – the way we move forward – good to know it’s a museum now … wonderful views – all the best Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  15. The views were worth the walk up from the parking lot. It looks like it was a busy and popular place back in the day going by the old images.
    I wonder if my mother who is terrified of heights would have been able to ride that train up and down under the canopy cover without too much anxiety? I can remember her terror and fear as we rode the small train up to the Lewis and Clark mine in MT. Riding it back down she was more of a wreck. That train has long since been decommissioned. The last time I was there in the 80’s one had to walk up and down to the mine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My wife is not a fan of inclines, and I think going down is worse for her. The only one she went on was the inclined elevator down into the generator tour at Grand Coulee Dam. There really wasn’t a choice, it was mid tour and we couldn’t go back. Of course, I wanted to sit right up front next to the bog glass window.

      Perhaps the roof would make a difference. I hope to have a chance to hike up to the house from the Halfway parking area. I’m sure Faith would prefer starting at the bottom, but she might accommodate me.

      Liked by 2 people

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