Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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Hoosac Mountain was proposed as a more permanent line
of transit.

Railroading was then in its infancy. The Mohawk and
Hudson steam passenger line, chartered May 27, 1826, being
the first in this country. It was opened between Albany
and Waterford, September 24, 1831. Edward Everett, in
a speech during 1827, said: "A system of internal im-
provements has commenced, which will have the effect,
when a little further developed, of crowding within a few
years the progress of generations."

The Albany Legislature passed an act, April 18, 1831,
incorporating the Troy Turnpike and Railroad Company,
with power to construct a railroad or turnpike from the city
of Troy up Hoosac Valley to Bennington and Pownal as far
as Massachusetts Line. George Tibbits was elected the
foremost director in May, and on January 10, 1832, it was
estimated that the cost of equipping the road with engines
and cars would be $450,000.

On January 12, 1833, all the directors, except George



452 The Hoosac Valley

Tibbits, voted to construct a turnpike instead of a railroad.
He believed in the proposed Troy and Hoosac Tunnel Route
to Boston, and in 1834 he personally engaged Prof. Amos
Eaton and his students of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
of Troy to survey a railroad route to the base of Hoosac
Mountain in North Adams. Mr. Tibbits, then a gentleman
of seventy years, accompanied Eaton's students on foot,
sharing the hardships of the expedition with them.

The Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Ballston Spa, Railroad was
incorporated, April 14, 1833, under the; directors: Pres.
Richard P. Hart, John Knickerbacker, John House, Stephen
Warren, William Pierce, James Cook, William Haight, and
Joel Lee, and completed, October 8, 1835. The Western
Railroad, now the Boston and Albany Line, extending from
Schenectady by way of Waterford Union Toll-Bridge of the
Hudson to Lansingburgh, was completed as far as Pittsfield
in 1843, within twenty miles of North Adams.

The largest manufacturing companies of the upper Hoosac
during the same year subscribed $90,000 in stock toward
building a branch line of twenty miles between North Adams
and Pittsfield. In order to expedite the work, $31,000 in
cash was raised, after which the Western Railroad Company
later completed and equipped the Pittsfield and North
Adams line with engines and cars costing $450,000. The road
was opened during the annual Agricultural Fair and Cattle
Show; and passenger, freight, and truck cars were pressed
into service to accommodate the Berkshire crowds. It was a
week famous in the annals of a century of progress in Hoosac
Valley.

The Hoosac Tunnel ' had its visionary birth, April 4, 1848,
when the Legislature of Massachusetts incorporated the
Greenfield and Hoosac Tunnel Railroad Company, with
power to build a railroad to the Vermont State Line in

'Washington Gladden, From the Huh to the Hudson, 1872.




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459



460



The Hoosac V^alley



furnace. Later, the place was occupied by the caHco works
by Stephen B. Brown and Duty S. Tyler. The Arnold
Print Works were founded by Harvey and John F. Arnold,
descendants of Gov. Benedict Arnold of Rhode Island. The




Greylock Factory Village, North Adams, Massachusetts, at the base of
Mount Williams, the northern abutment of Greylock Range. Factory chim-
neys and Church spires replace the cannon mounts of the Old Forts of Hoosac
Valley.

Beaver Print Works were founded in 1832 by Maj. Loring
Rice and George W, Bly, after which Union Village in Clarks-
burgh was organized north of North Adams. The Freeman
Print Works were founded by Levi L. Brown of Adams at an
equally early day. The present Windsor Print Works, near
the junction of the Mayoonsac with the Ashawaghsac, consist
of a consolidation of the Arnold, Beaver, and Freeman works.
The shoe business of North Adams began in 1843, when
Edwin Childs and David C. Rogers opened a small shop.



Progress during the Hoosac Tunnel Era 461

The largest shoe concerns in North Adams to-day include
those founded by Mi lard, Cady, Chase, Whitman, Canedy,
and Sampson, and engage an average of 2500 operators.
In 1870, Sampson employed 75 Chinamen during a strike,
which proved the first introduction of Chinese labor in
New England. The leather business was founded by Daniel
Barber. It is the only New England concern finishing seal,
morocco, and pigskin leather both for shoes and novelties
direct from the green hides.

James Hunter, Sr., a Scotchman from Galashiels in 1847,
founded a machine shop on the east bank of the Ashawagh-
sac, near the site of the historic furnace. There is scarcely a
woollen mill in the United States not supplied with machin-
ery from Hunter's machine shop. At an early day North
Adams became celebrated as a mechanical centre. Allen
B. Wilson invented his sewing-machine in the town. During
the spring of 1850, he left North Adams with his sewing
machine model for New York to secure a patent. In 1865,
he returned and built the Wilson House with the profits of
his invention, now manufactured as the Wheeler and Wilson
sewing-machine .

The Rev. Washington Gladden states' that Allen B.
Wilson invented a sewing-machine without help or suggestion
from anybody else, and without having seen or heard of a
sewing-machine. The idea was purely original with him.
The Wheeler and Wilson was a practical success from the
start.

The manufactures of Adams Village consist o cotton,
paper, lime, and marble. The Berkshire Cotton Manufac-
turing Company was organized, August 10, 1889, by sons
of Gen. W. C. Plunkett, first Lieutenant-Governor of Mas-
sachusetts. Mill No. I was dedicated in February, 1890,
with a concert attended by 6000 people. Mill No. 2 was

'Washington Gladden, From the Hub to the Hudson, 1872.



462 The Hoosac Valley

dedicated, October 5, 1892, by Gov. William McKinley, of
Ohio, after the passage of McKinley's tariff bill. The cost
of the first two mills exceeded $1,000,000. Mill No. 3 was
dedicated by William McKinley in 1899, after his election
as President. The whole plant is equipped with 2100
spindles and employs 1000 hands, and is acknowledged sec-
ond to no other American cotton concern. The L. L. Brown
Paper Company is noted for its superior hand-made ledger
paper the world over. The historic Harbor Mill of Cheshire
on the upper Ashawaghsac still remains as a landmark.
The Greylock Shirt Company at Adams, founded in 1891,
produces 500 dress shirts weekly. The Shirting and Table-
cloth Company was founded by Levi L. Brown and is now
operated by James Renfrew at Renfrew. At Maple Grove
the Adams Bros, run a cotton yarn-mill.

The Adams Marble Quarry on Ragged Mountain was
opened in 1 895 and produces pure crystal marble 99 i^o\ %
carbonate of lime. It is equal to the Lee and Dorset
quarries, and only surpassed by the Italian marbles. The
New England lime-kilns carry on an extensive business and
control a branch kiln at Kreigger Rocks in North Pownal,
Vt.

The Bennington manufactures of the upper Walloomsac
consist of pottery, stoves, furnaces, gunpowder, and paper-
pulp; dress goods, shoddy, knit underwear, and hosiery;
men's uniforms, cuffs, collars, waxed-paper, mineral soap,
and ochres.

Col. Olin Scott, a descendant from several of the pioneer
mill-owners of historic Bennington, invented machinery
for the manufacture of gun-powder during the Civil War,
and now ships it throughout the United States, Canada,
Mexico, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa. Later he erected
powder-mills at Marquette, Mich., Youngstown, O., Scran-
ton, Pa., New York City, and Wilmington, Del. His




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Online LibraryGrace Greylock NilesThe Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history → online text (page 31 of 41)