What was the first state park in Massachusetts?
Photo by Frania Caulfield
Established in 1898, the Mount Greylock State Reservation shines brighter than ever today. Greylock is low in height among American mountains, but it enjoys a reputation far exceeding its stature. Its inviting human scale may partially explain its fame. Views from the summit extend to about 70 miles over five states. Four of Massachusetts’ five highest summits are within the reservation. Miles of hiking trails crisscross the park, whose original 400 acres grew to 12,500.
Archaeological studies indicate that Native Americans never ascended the mountain, possibly considering it sacred. Herman Melville was no less awe-inspired when he called Greylock “most excellent purple majesty.” Other writers—Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry David Thoreau, and, more recently, J.K. Rowling—have found inspiration in the 3,191-foot-high massif.
From the time settlers arrived, there have been attempts to exploit Greylock and to protect it. It has seen periods of scientific exploration, farming, grazing, mining, lumbering, manufacturing, skiing, recreation, tourism, military training, and environmental protection. Since becoming our first state park, facilities for public use have continuously improved, especially since the 1930s. Most recently, we have seen road reconstruction, a revived Bascom Lodge, and restoration of the 93-foot-tall Veterans War Memorial Tower.
If the beacon seems to shine brighter, it is no optical illusion. New technology has made the light four times stronger. Always the crown jewel of the state park system, Greylock now literally has a new glow.