"... such a country as we might see in dreams ..." -Henry David Thoreau
Mount Greylock summit opens for the season
ADAMS — The most dramatic view in Berkshire County is again just a car ride away.
The shuttered gates of Mount Greylock summit's public auto roads swing open for the season Saturday, portending summer weather and a nearly complete renovation of the Veterans War Memorial Tower.
Traditionally, Bascom Lodge on the summit opens the Saturday closest to May 15, but budget issues lead to the state requesting that it open a week later than usual, said John Dudek, general manager and chef at the lodge.
Nonetheless, Dudek said he's already seeing signs of a busy season to come.
"I've taken personally quite a number of phone calls asking when the season was going to start on the summit," he said. The lodge has also taken a significant number of advanced reservations for lodging.
A draw for some of those customers is the summit's Veterans War Memorial Tower, set to open around the middle to the end of June after a long period of renovations.
The interior of the tower will be accessible to handicapped patrons and free of the dripping water and deteroriating paint that plagued it before renovations began in 2015, said Dom Sacco, acting western regional director of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.
"It should be a much cleaner look," he said.
The 95-foot tower has been closed to the public since 2013, after water infiltration caused cracking of stonework and degradation of interior walls. Pieces had begun to fall from the tower's walls and ceilings.
Chronic moisture problems had continuously impacted the tower — the result of freezing, expanding, contracting and condensation due to extreme weather changes on the summit.
Repairs included resealing the exterior, repairing ventilation fans and installing a new dehumidification system. New lighting in the memorial and the stairwell has also been installed.
The tower also was reconstructed in the 1970s, and underwent major repairs in the 1990s.
Workers will complete finishing touches before the tower re-opens, Sacco said. Once work is completed, the department will hold a dedication ceremony.
At 3,491 feet, Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts. Its summit is the only subarctic climate in southern New England. Acquired by the state in 1898, it was Massachusetts' first wilderness state park.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation estimates that over 100,000 people visit Mount Greylock annually.
Although the memorial draws many visitors, Mount Greylock offers much more, Sacco said.
"The trails, the hiking trails, the Visitor Center below ... there's a lot of use in that facility," he said. "I anticipate a busy year."
Reach staff writer Patricia LeBoeuf at 413-496-6247 or @BE_pleboeuf.
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