Gabriel Abbott third and fourth grade history detectives
Mr. Paul Marino is right - local history rules!
We had a lot of help researching and creating our web sites on famous landmarks along the Mohawk Trail. This page will tell you what we did to learn about the Trail, who helped us, where we visited and all that we learned when we visited each of the eleven sites we researched, and what resources we used, and our recommendations to those who want to learn more about the long and winding road that we get to travel on and experience everyday – the Mohawk Trail.
First, we had our local history expert and all around fun guy, Mr. Paul Marino visit us at our school, Gabriel Abbott Memorial and for a couple of hours he told us the ‘story’ of the Trail. He explained that history is a story – and that primary documents, such as photographs, newspaper articles, diaries, advertisements, government documents and even postcards, can help us put together that story. With Mr. Marino’s help we put together a time line of events about the Trail, starting with the Native American history leading right up to today. We learned that even though the Mohawk Trail is named after an Indian tribe there is little to no evidence to prove this fact. When we asked why, we learned it is because there are no primary documents and little artifacts to prove it – and being a historian is like being a detective – you have to look for the evidence. All we really know is that when the first white settlers came to this region in the early 1700s there were footpaths across the Hoosac Mountain, used by many different Native tribes. These footpaths were adopted by the settlers and eventually turned into what is now the Mohawk Trail. To learn more about this see our resource list below.
After our visit with Mr. Marino, and armed with a lot of questions about the Trail, we headed down the Hoosac Mountain to the valley and into the city of North Adams, where we visited with Gene Carlson at the North Adams Museum of Science and History. Mr. Carlson gave us a tour of the museum, highlighting some wonderful artifacts in the museum’s collection, but what really caught our eyes was his collection of vintage postcards of the Mohawk Trail. These hand painted postcards that spanned from the turn of the century – the 20th century that is – to the 1960s, were the number one souvenirs sold along the Trail and tell quite a story about the history and development of the Trail. Mr. Carlson gave us permission to use these postcards to help us tell our own story about the landmarks we pass everyday on our way to school – comparing the images on the postcards with present day images of the exact same spots. By doing this we got to put ourselves into the history of the Trail.
Now that we knew what we would be using for our primary documents – vintage postcards – we met with Richard Campanile, park ranger at the Western Gateway Heritage State Park and author of The Postcard Series: Mohawk Trail. Mr. Campanile showed us a short film that he helped produce, using Mr. Gene Carlson’s vintage postcards, and then talked to us about how he researched the history of the Trail for his book. We realized even though we are only kids – we were conducting our research just like real historians!
When we returned to school we worked in teams, each team picking one landmark to research. Armed with all the information we collected we visited each site and then wrote a short history of each place, along with a brief comment about our own personal experiences with these sites. We connected the past with the present and took photos to compare the ‘then and now.’ Next we had local resident, and the town of Florida’s official historian, Stan Brown, come visit us. Stan told about the history of the Trail from a personal perspective. Mr. Brown was born and raised on the Trail and his family owned an automobile business right on the Trail for decades. He really helped us to understand the impact the invention of the automobile had on our country – and the Mohawk Trail especially – including many of our relatives here in Florida, MA. Mr. Brown’s personal touches and remembrances really brought the history of the Trail alive for us. We were now ready to create this web site.
We hope you enjoy all our hard work and become a history detective yourself. Learn even more about our mountain and the famous Mohawk Trail, just like we did, with the following resources and recommendations:
- Historic Auto Trail Guide: The Mohawk Trail: Route 2 from Boston Massachusetts to Troy, New York. Muddy River Press, Brookline, MA, 2003
- Stories from Our Hills by Jean Jarvie. Lamb Printing Co., Inc. North Adams, MA, 1926
- History of the Hoosac Tunnel, Orson Dalrymple Publisher, North Adams, MA, 1880.
- The Hoosac Tunnel, Florida Historical Committee, Florida, MA 2005
- Old Fort Masachusetts, a reprinting of An Old Fort and What Came of It, published by the North Adams Historical Society, North Adams 1991.
- Postcard History Series: Mohawk Trail by Robert Campanile. Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 2007
- The Mohawk Trail: Its History and Course, together with an account of Fort Massachusetts and of the early Turnpike over Hoosac Mountainby William B. Browne, Sun Printing Co, Pittsfield, MA, 1920
- Florida & Monroe: Past and Present Lore compiled by the Gabriel Abbott Memorial Sixth Grade
- Mohawks, Model Ts and Monuments: The Formulation of an Unlikely Regional Identity in Western Massachusetts, an American Studies Thesis from Williams College, written by graduate student Robert Quay. 2004 – entire thesis available as pdf – just click.
- The Mohawk Trail Addendum by Paul Marino. Published by the Hoosac Bank, North Adams, MA. 1998
- On Top of the World:The Whitcomb Family of Whitcomb Summit, Florida Massachustts. Ued with permission from John and Marilyn Osgood. just click on this link to see thegeat family history put together by descents of the original owners of the Whitcomb Summit.
Our Web Site has partnered with the following people and organizations:
- This website was supported by Windows on History, a project of the Emerging America program at the Hampshire Educational Collaborative and funded by a Teaching American History grant from the United States Department of Education. http://emergingamerica.org/
- A big shout out to Green River consulting for all their help designing and publishing this web site. http://www.greenriverconsulting.net/
- The Western Gateway Heritage State Park with special thanks to park ranger Robert Campanile. http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/wghp.htm
- The North Adams Museum of History and Science and the North Adams Historical Society with special thanks to Gene Carlson. http://www.northadamshistory.org/
- The Hampshire Educational Collaborative with special thanks to Rich Cairn and Susan Judson-Whitehouse. emergingamerica.org
- Thank you to the James and Robert Hardman Fund, administered by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation for paying for our bus to the museums.
- A big thank you to the following teachers: Ms. Lori Austin, Mrs. Denise Chesbro, Miss Elizabeth Hubby and Miss Jackie Mason.
- Thanks to Laurene L. York, owner of the Mohawk Trading Post and a historian in her own right for the use of her text. http://www.mohawk-trading-post.com/
- And of course, thank you to our history experts; Paul Marino, Stan Brown, Gene Carlson and Robert Campanile for all their generosity and time.
Stanley Brown & 1930 Model A in 1950