The Elk on the Trail Monument
By Kristy K. and Devon G.
Have you ever wondered why there is a big bronze elk was built on the top of the mountain in Florida, Massachusetts? After all, there are no elks native to this region. The elk is a monument that was built in 1923 by the Gorham Manufacturing Co. , commissioned by the Greenfield Elk’s Club and has become a famous landmark ever since.
The above postcard with the Elk on the Trail as it is called on it was made in the 1920s. The Elk Monument was designed to represent the Elk Club and it also to represents their members who died in World War I. The Elk on the Trail monument cost $6,000 to have commissioned, built and dedicated.
“WOW!!!!!!” that was a lot of money in the depression of the 1920’2. Much of the money for the statue was donated from the many Elk’s organization across Massachusetts.Charles H. Canedy, owner of the Whitcomb Summit, offered to deed 15,000 square feet of land for the monument and building began. Here is what the is written by James J. Hourihan Jr., president of the Massachusetts Elks Association, 1972-73 wroteabout the Elk:
Here stands, at the point of Route 2, the Majestic bronze memorial dedicated to all Elks who offered or gave their lives in defense of the American way of life and in this country in which we dwell. The winter of 1922-23, four years after the terrible conflict of World War I, was one of unusual severity.In the spring of 1923, an early thaw caused a break-up of ice in the Deerfield River which flows easterly parallel to Route 2.
A resulting ice jam flooded the highway. A sudden drop in temperature left a layer of ice upon the road’s surface 10 to 12 feet thick. Since Route 2 was, at that time, one of the three main arteries traversing the state, it became necessary to blast a single lane through the ice so traffic could travel the highway. Richard Sears of Boston, an Elk and well known photographer, came to the area to take photographs for news purposes of this phenomenon of nature. Much taken by the beauty of the area, Brother Sears, at a meeting with Exalted Ruler Thomas Lawler of Greenfield Lodge #1296 remarked, “This area is so beautiful, how fitting it would be to have here a memorial in memory of Elks who lost their lives in the World War.” (taken from http://www.eaglestreet.com/elk_elkontrail.htm)
President Emeritus Eliot of Harvard University wrote the inscription on the base of the Elk. The statue is on a large piece of granite from Chester, Massachuestts that originally weighed 35 tons! The Hoosac Mountain that the Elk stands on is 2,800 feet high. the statue was dedicated on June 17, 1023 with a hugh ceremony with over 10,000 people driving up the windy and bumby roads in cars that were not made for such a ride. Celebritites, politicians and local people as well as tourist attended.
The members of the North Adams Elk’s Lodge #487 volunteer to clean the Elk and seal it keeping it in its natural bronze color. On May 27,1973 John E. Fenton rededicated The Elk on the Trail Memorial, “In memory of our Brothers who offered, or gave their lives in all wars, and to peace.” “May this memorial continue to inspire the passerby with the deep sympathy that all Elks hold for their departed Brothers.”
The resources that we used were The Mohawk Trail by the Muddy River Press, The Mohawk Trail by William B. Brown ,and The Elk On The Trail. Today it stands in its pride. My partner and I hope you learned about the Elk that stands on Florida Mountain. Below are more pictures and postcards about the Elk on the Trail and its dedication ceremony.