Saturday, January 3, 2009
We were heading north on route 91 through Holyoke when we saw the tall thin AT&T antenna that marks the spot where Anniversary Hill Park used to be, a long time ago.
In that now defunct park is a stone tower called Scott Tower that I've been meaning to check out, since reading about it recently in blogs and print. Holyoke blogger Rambling Van Dog did a couple posts on the park and tower last year, and the Valley Advocate's Mark Roessler did a very good story on the park's history and present situation. (Roessler also includes a fantastic panoramic virtual tour of the tower itself).
We had to stop and ask a pedestrian for directions, as the entrance to the park is not readily accessible or marked in any way. We were directed to go up through a neighborhood side street and up a hill to Community Field, which sits adjacent to route 91. On a corner of that small park, is a gated highway underpass that leads into the main section of the old park. According to Roessler, route 91's construction in the early 60's completely blocked access to the main section of the park, which led to it's decline.
Later, and too late, this underpass was constructed and access was restored. Unfortunately by that time the wind had completely gone out of the park's sails, and restoration efforts in the 1970's couldn't resurrect it's popularity...
The main access road gradually climbs the hill through the now forested landscape and loops back around a small dell, then up to the AT&T antenna.
Down below, a small walking bridge can be seen, across a nice little stream passing through what (judging by the young trees) was probably an open, meadowy area at one time.
Up above, a hawk watched us watching him.
To the left of the road are some stone steps that used to lead to a wide picnic area spread out along the hillside.
And there are a lot of picnic tables, or what's left of them.
Crossing through the picnic area, we picked up the access road again and kept going uphill. Soon, Scott Tower emerged from the tree cover...
Getting closer, I thought it was actually a pretty impressive little tower. It was built as part of the WPA program at the end of the Great Depression. It's apparently strongly built, and certainly oddly designed.
We found the doorway, which from what I've read has been alternately locked and broken open, was in the latter condition today.
We had to go in and check it out. The steps are starting to fall apart though, and it's probably not the safest thing in the world. The concrete on one step has in fact completely crumbled through, and the rebar is exposed.
We carefully climbed up to the top, and the views were excellent. Though some hills on the western side block out any long distance views, the scenes to the north, east and south are completely clear.
We headed back down as the sun was starting to get low.
Surprisingly even though it would be dark soon, several people passed us going back up the hill to the tower.
It must be a good sunset viewing spot. The park must have been pretty nice in it's day.
Right now it's down and out, but not irreparable.