North Adams Massachusetts, 1890
North Adams is a flourishing manufacturing town on the Hoosac River, in the northern part of Berkshire County. The junction of the Housatonic Railroad, running south through the county, with the Fitchburg Railroad at North Adams is 143 miles (by the latter road) northwest of Boston. The other stations on this road are Greylock and Blackinton. The post-office is North Adams; and the villages are the places already mentioned and Beaver, Braytonville, Houghtonville and Kempville. The town is bounded on the north by Clarksburg, east by Florida, south by Adams, and west by Williamstown. The assessed area is 9,670 acres. There are 3,866 acres of forest, consisting in part of maple, beech, birch and cherry.
The scenery of the town is wild and picturesque. At the southwest is Saddle Mountain, with Greylock farther south. At the southeast corner is Spruce Hill; 5,288 feet high. This forms the southern point of Hoosac Mountain, which is pierced from east to west by the Hoosac Tunnel, on the Fitchburg Railroad. The western end of the tunnel is a little southeast of the geographical centre of the town. A full account of this work is given under the head of "Florida," in which town the eastern end is situated. The principal streams are the Hoosac and its northern and southern branches, which unite at the chief village — North Adams, thence flowing in a general northwest course to Blackinton village, at the northwest angle of the town, thence through Williamstown, and across the southwestern angle of Vermont, to the Hudson in New York. On Hudson Brook, which enters the North Branch of the Hoosac, just below the northern line, there is a very curious natural bridge of limestone. The water, for a space of some 30 feet, has cut a channel in the white marble about 15 feet wide, through walls from 30 to 60 feet high, which at one place form an arch of solid rock over the stream. In Notch Brook, from which North Adams village is supplied with an abundance of pure water, there is a very beautiful cascade, where, in a deeply wooded glen, the water plunges down a precipice about 30 feet. The basal rock of .the town is Lauzon schist, Potsdam and Levis limestone. Both limestone and marble are quarried. The valleys are quite free from wood, and have a rich loamy soil, while the highlands are sandy or gravelly. There are many fruit trees.
The aggregate product of the 96 farms in 1885 amounted to $121,467. There were six boot and shoe factories, employing some 650 persons, and making goods to the value of $1,178,492; four cotton mills with dyeworks, employing 870 persons; one woollen mill employing 233; and printworks employing 652 persons. The aggregate value of the textiles made was $4,531,885. Other manufactures were zylonite goods (employing 59 persons), leather, carriages, wrought stone, metallic goods, boxes, bricks, furniture, brooms, clothing, soap, tobacco and liquors. The aggregate value of goods made was $6,469,479. The capital stock of the two national banks was $700,000; and the two savings banks at the close of last year held deposits to the amount of $1,859,772. The valuation in 1888 was $5,610,833, with a tax-rate of $17 on $1,000. The taxed dwelling-houses were 1,763 in number. The population in 1880 was 10,191; in 1885, 12,540. At the latter date there were 2,543 legal voters, The town has graded schools. There is a high school, bearing the name of Drury Academy, conducted on a finely developed system. The value of the school buildings and appurtenances in 1885 was $126,300. The public library contained 5,777 volumes. The local papers are the "Berkshire Leader," the "Hoosac Valley News," the "Adams Transcript" and the " Sunday Express," all weeklies. The churches are one each of the Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Universalists, and two of the Roman Catholics.
This place long bore the name of East Hoosac. Many of the first comers were from Connecticut, but most of these sold their holdings to a more numerous influx from Rhode Island, who were largely Friends. The nucleus of the settlement was a saw mill and a grist mill at North Adams. The Rev. Samuel Todd, settled in 1780, was the first minister. The Friends organized a society in 1781; meeting at first in a log-house, but erecting a better building a few years later. Fort Massachusetts, one of a cordon of defences for protection against the French and Indians, was constructed by Col. Williams about 1744. It stood on the north side of Saddle Mountain. On August 26, 1746, it was gallantly defended by Col. Hanks against an attack of 900 French and Indians; but, after destroying 45 of the assailants, he was obliged by lack of ammunition to surrender. The fort was again bravely defended by Col. Williams, on August 2, 1748, against 300 French and Indians. The town was set off from Adams and incorporated under its present name on April 16, 1878. Chinese laborers to the number of 40 or 50 were employed with profit in one of the shoe factories here about 1810; but nearly all have departed from the town. One or two have become citizens.
pp. 506-507 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890