Friday, July 30, 2010

The War for the Union Pictorial Envelope - Great Barrington, Mass.

The War for the Union - Pictorial Envelope - Great Barrington, Mass

Each community in Western Massachusetts was expected to send its quota of men to fight in the war between the States.

Early on, when patriotism and war fever were high, volunteers and money were easily found and the war effort flourished. But, as the Civil War waged on and the true cost of  union began to be felt, volunteers became fewer and far-between and towns struggled to keep up with their quotas.

Bounties grew higher and higher to attract recruits and it is said that men would sometimes move into the towns that paid more lucrative bounties for enlistment. Towns strained the limits of their budgets and their male populations to provide for the defense of the Republic, ultimately requiring state aid to meet expenses.

Many ladies aid societies sprang up, raising funds to provide necessities and support for the fighting men of Western Massachusetts and the families they left behind.

For an excellent accounting of Berkshire County's cost in blood and treasure in the Civil War, penned in 1871, just five years after the defense of  liberty prevailed, visit the webpage: Berkshire County, Mass. in the Civil War featuring, A History Of Massachusetts in the Civil War, written by William Schouler at:

As always thanks for stopping by and take care.

Image source:  Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society, [Digital ID, nhnycw/aj aj04029]

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Berkshires: The View From Texas

Catherine Mallet at the Star-Telegram in Texas writes about her trip to the Berkshires and Western Massachusetts (a "vast wilderness") in her July 28, 2010, article 'Tag along on a trip through Americana in Massachusetts' Berkshires.'

It's always nice to read good things about Western Massachusetts!

Here's the link to the story:

As always thanks for stopping by and take care!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Western Massachusetts Highways and Byways, circa 1929

1929 Gulf Refining Co. Road Map

Before the Massachusetts Turnpike sped east to west, before Interstate 91 linked north and south, before Quabbin...Western Massachusetts, 1929...

Happy motoring!

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Hampden County Memorial Bridge Spans Another Year Serving Western Mass.

The Hampden County Memorial Bridge (circa 1935-45)

The Hampden County Memorial Bridge is a vital link spanning the Connecticut River between the City of Springfield and the Town of West Springfield.

The magnificent structure was designed by architectural firm Fay, Spofford & Thorndike, in conjunction with Haven & Hoyt, architects, and its construction was contracted to H. P. Converse & Company, builders, on April 3, 1920. Fay, Spofford & Thorndike were retained as architects again in 1996 for the bridge's rebuild, contracted to the construction company, Daniel O'Connell's Sons.

The 1,515 foot-long Memorial Bridge was officially dedicated on August 3, 1922, "to those who had died as pioneers, and soldiers in the Revolutionary, Civil and Foreign Wars."

For more about the Memorial Bridge and the Toll Bridge that preceded it, check out previous EWM posts, Postcards: Hampden County Memorial Bridge and Postcards: The Old Toll Bridge Springfield, Massachusetts.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Postcards : Berkshire County Lakes and Ponds

"Card Lake, West Stockbridge, Mass."
With the summer of 2010 shaping up to be one of the warmest on record, telling someone to "go jump in the lake" doesn't quite carry the stinging ring of dissonance it once might have. Indeed, suggesting a dive in the lake may even be considered an act of benevolence as the mercury pushes higher and higher on the Fahrenheit scale.

One never has far to go in Western Massachusetts in the quest for cool, crisp and clear water: Another blessing to count when drawing up the list.

For generations, local families have escaped the sticky cares of hot towns and cities for short-drive perches lakeside, quick bursts of warm summer memories stored for long, cold winter months like so many canned tomatoes and dated jars of piccalilli. Water bodies banked with smiles young and old, happy shouts, barbecues and badminton. At night, flashlights and toasted marshmallows and fireflies compete with a billion stars joining overhead. Damp, sandy towels drying on the line for tomorrow. In Western Massachusetts, we thaw with our lakes and ponds and sparkle radiant under the same sun.

These postcards of Berkshire County bodies of water were borrowed from the ImageMuseum (, an excellent website put together by Jim and Russ Birchall with thousands of vintage Western Massachusetts postcards and photographs (and more) to peruse. Captions in quotes are from the postcards.

"Otis Pond looking West"

"Green Water Pond, Jacobs Ladder Roadway, West Becket, Mass."

"Shaw Lake Near Lee, Mass."

"Scene on Onoto* Lake, Pittsfield, Mass."

"Pontoosuc Lake showing Greylock Mountain, Pittsfield, Mass."

Okay...ready for a swim? Here's a cool website for locating local swimming holes in Massachusetts:

Remember be safe: Swim with a friend!

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.


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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tolland Bicentennial Cup Croquet Tournament To Be Held Sunday, August 1st

Wicket Grounds Croquet Club, Tolland, MA
(TOLLAND, MA - Press Release) The final, dramatic act in the observance of the town of Tolland, Massachusetts 200th anniversary, will be played out on the lawns of writer Joseph Clark's ancestral farm for the Bicentennial Cup Croquet Tournament, Sunday, August 1, from noon until 5 PM.

A distinct rarity in such celebrations, croquet continues to be found and enjoyed on most New England farm and rural homes, including those of Clark's family, whose ancestors helped found the town in 1810 and have populated it for most of the time since.

In 1989, Clark rebuilt and "rewicketed" the dedicated lawns and produced and managed more than 100 such matches throughout New England and New York when few people ventured into the Berkshire foothills to play at his own lawns. But, since 9-11, enthusiasm for the sport as a public event also has suffered. So now, free matches and social croquet by invitation has been the main entertainment for Clark, who lives with his wife in a rather reclusive existence much of the time, rattling around the dusty hallways of their rambling farmhouse.

Tolland, Massachusetts, (now mentioned always with the actual state attached) is among the ten smallest towns in the Commonwealth, but steadily growing as the seekers of quiet and smallness eventually are finding the high country roads and grow accustomed to the "16 miles to anything" lifestyle. When July came to Tolland, the long-planned 200th anniversary festivities occupied the town's thoughts. It had rained on the parade, but sun shown on the fishing derby and softball game. Clark's family trust produced the Art Show at the newly repainted church on the green while thunder rumbled in the Catskills, seen by the trained eye far to the west. The Sunday croquet matches follows the ubiquitous fire department steak roast to be held the day before, July 31, on the green, but not many townspeople play croquet.

The event is free to all players and spectators. Players must have experience in any type of croquet, as many rules are in common. The minimum age is 13 and the traditional whites are optional but the shoes are not. No sandals on the lawns, please.

Perfect for both backyard and advanced players alike, the easy play six wicket format is set in a series of half hour games of group play, each man and woman playing one ball as individuals. The players are awarded points in each game and are promoted to more difficult lawns hoping to find themselves on "Center Court" for the grand finale. Cups are awarded to the three top points scorers.

Described as a meld of the "game" and the "sport" of croquet, "individual one ball" is a divination of Clark's writer's mind, imagining a fun day where five hours could be spent on croquet, (normally the "sport" is a two day affair or more) and "still have time to find their way out of town, before it gets dark."

The Wicket Grounds are located off route 57 at 1043 Burt Hill Road, four miles east of New Boston, Massachusetts, and 30 miles west of Springfield. Tolland, Massachusetts is a town of 445, whose telephone is in Sandisfield, its mail from Granville, its schools in Southwick and its identity in ...Connecticut, where the city of Tolland is often confused with...guess who...?

Being 16 miles from Southwick, it is a pleasant and almost hidden trip along "The Toto Trail", the name of Clark's history of Tolland, Massachusetts, through the blueberry lanes of Granville up into the high country just north of the Connecticut line. At night the lights of Winsted, Connecticut, blink toward The Wicket Grounds on Burt Hill...from 16 miles away, of course.

For more information on the Bicentennial Cup Croquet Tournament, visit, or contact or The Wicket Grounds, 1043 Burt Hill Road, Tolland, Ma 01034.

For the details on the Tolland Volunteer Fire Department’s July 31st Steak Roast and Dance celebrating Tolland’s 200th birthday, check out:

And here's a link to the official Town of Tolland, Mass. website:

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