North Adams, Massachusetts
"Old New England Town"
North Adams, the second largest community in Berkshire County, was an
industrial part of Adams until 1878 when the two were separated. The area
was originally laid out in 1739, and was resurveyed and divided into house
lots in 1768. Fort Massachusetts, built in 1744 below the junction of the
Upper and Lower forks of the Hoosic River fell to General Vaudrevil's 900
French and Indians in the summer of 1745.
Textiles became the major industry of North Adams beginning in 1799 with
a fulling mill. In 1801 David Estes built the first carding and cloth dressing
mill on the north branch of the Hoosic. Substantial growth in the layouts of
the early mills occurred between 1830 and 1845, and by the late 19th century,
the Freeman Print Works, the Sampson Shoe Company, and H. Arnold &
Company were the largest employers. North Adams grew to be the
commercial and industrial center of North Berkshire.
The cutting of the Hoosac Tunnel (1851-1875) provided more direct rail
service to the city. Considered one of the great engineering feats of the 19th
century, it cost $21,241,842, 196 lives, and took twenty two years to
complete. Its construction might have taken longer if not for the first
commercial use of tri-nitro-glycerine in blasting the tunnel. It is on the
Historic American Engineering Survey and the National Register.