|View to the North from Compass Marker|
The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer. I am surprised, as well as delighted, when this happens, it is such a rare use he would make of me, as if he were acquainted with the tool.
Thoreau - Life Without Principle 1863
Henry David Thoreau walked from Concord to Mt. Wachusett in 1842 and wrote about it in his first Excursions essay, "A Walk to Wachusett." What he found on the summit was a rather barren and rocky summit with a grand view all about. As he describes it, "From the foundation of a wooden observatory, which was formerly erected on the highest point, forming a rude, hollow structure of stone, a dozen feet in diameter, and five or six in height, we could see Monadnock, in simple grandeur, in the northwest, rising nearly a thousand feet higher, still the "far blue mountain," though with an altered profile."
It has been over 40 years since the Summit Hotel (with an observatory on the top floor 4th level) burned in December 1970. That would have been the last time that the public was able to view the lands of Massachusetts and beyond from a point higher than ground level - not including the fire watch tower accessible to the Forestry Department only. Now, after this project is complete, we will once again, be able to experience the thrill of a viewing from "the observatory of the state."
A new tower/observation deck is under construction. While the fire watch tower will rise to approximately the same height as the present tower, at the base will be a ramp-style observation tower that will rise to about 20 feet above the level surface of the summit. This will be pedestrian accessible.
Random access parking will no longer be available on the summit. In fact, parking will be restricted to the lower parking lot which exists now just below the Summit Pond and Parker Lodge ... recognizable by the towers and the dish antennas. The parking lot will be expanded at the lower level and eliminated completely on the summit. Access above the parking area - picnic areas, Summit Pond, and Summit will be accessible only by foot.
On this site, I will try to capture the progress of construction. From these earlier pictures, you can see that construction waits for better conditions. Take a good look; it will never be the same. But on the other hand, I believe Thoreau would like the new look. As he wrote, "Wachusett is, in fact, the observatory of the State. There lay Massachusetts, spread out before us in its length and breadth, like a map." [from "A Walk to Wachusett," as Thoreau wrote from Charles Theodore Russell's, book A History of Princeton.]
|View East toward Boston From Approximate Site of the New Tower|
You can view the construction project on the website of the Mass Dept of Conservation and Recreation.