This American River

The Berkshire Hills & Pioneer Valley of Western Mass

The New South Hadley Falls Canoe Lodge
The New South Hadley Falls Canoe Lodge.

The City from up the River
The City from up the River.
        There are those who praise the charms of the wild woods, and mountain climbing, and rough adventure, and say that you do not half appreciate the beauty of a sound sleep till you are just worn out with all day’s tramping or twelve or fifteen hours in a saddle; that you know nothing of the pleasures of eating till you’ve had a slight experience of starvation. Well, if there are those who choose to pursue pleasure in that barbarian fashion, let them, but the modern and civilized way is after the manner adopted by the Holyoke canoeists. The Sytoneha Lodge is the resort of ladies as well as men, and all the mariners are justly proud of their broad piazza and the lounging-room just behind it, which, when the wide, folding doors are thrown back, becomes at once a part of the already ample piazza.
        On the same side of the river as the Sytoneha, and about two and one-half miles from the city, is the Sans Souci Lodge. It stands just at the head of the rapids and commands, from its situation on the bluff, a long, smooth sweep of the Connecticut, stretching away to the north. This belongs to the younger, and, I suppose, more frisky members of the canoe club, to whom a few miles’ fight with the rapids, with perchance a spell of towing along the rocky shore where the water runs swiftest, is a matter of no moment. The canoeing season opens early in April, and thence forward, when the weather favors, almost any afternoon will see some of the little craft skimming about on the water. After working house, to leave the dust and turmoil of the city behind, and betake oneself to the cool currents of the river, over which you move in a little boat so frail and light that is seems almost a part of yourself, so quickly does it respond to every touch of the paddle — this is no slight pleasure. Then there is to be had lazy comfort on the lodge piazza, and a supper by and by, and some gamboling on the waters with the canoes in the evening, which, if it be moonlight, takes on a touch of the romantic, or, if any starlight, brightens the glooms, becomes rather mysterious and adventurous. If there are logs drifting down the stream at the same time, this heightens the interest. Top-overs are frequent, but he canoeists are all swimmers, and these duckings simply furnish laughing stock. As the night deepens, and the stars take on a glowing luster, the canoeists drop down the current, slip through the narrow passage left open for them in the boom, and shortly are storing their boats in the Holyoke Clubhouse and are ready to wend their ways to their various homes. On Saturdays, there is usually a little company which spends the night at the lodge, where ten or a dozen cots are kept stored, returning sometimes on Sunday. Titan’s Pier is a favorite resort, and many an evening lunch the canoeists et there on that rugged wall of a rock, with its commanding outlook up and down the river, before the summer is through. In the little cove here the canoes gather, and they make a picture truly charming if the sails are set, for then they resemble nothing so much as a company of great butterflies, grouping with lifted wings on the sand. Another famous resort is Mrs. Water’s at Smith’s Ferry. In her interest in them, and care for them, Mrs. Waters is mother to all these canoe boys. She knows just how to set forth a supper to their taste, and is certain that the summer races could never be complete without Mrs. Waters present to witness them.

Red Cliffe Canoe Lodge
Red Cliffe Canoe Lodge.

Sytoneha Lodge, from the West Bank
Sytoneha Lodge, from the West Bank.

A Railroad Wreck at Jones' Gap
A Railroad Wreck at Jones’ Gap.

Sans Souci Lodge
Sans Souci Lodge.

© Laurel O’Donnell 1996 - 2006, all rights reserved
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