Archive for January, 2014

Williamstown at the Turn of the Millennium

Panorama of 30 Williamstown from Pine Cobble,10-22-00




This view of Williamstown, Massachusetts from Pine Cobble was made on October 22, 2000. I wanted a definitive view of town at the millennium. A bench mark.

I used a 1917 cirkut camera – the kind that spins around on the tripod – the only way to make a continuous view, pre digital.  It does “hick-up” occasionally. The original negative is about 5×40 inches. I scanned and digitized it. A section of this photograph is cover art of the town history Williamstown 1753-2003.

I waited until the leaves were almost all off the trees but there was still color.  Last third of leaf season is my favorite because the green is gone and leaves aren’t blocking so much of the view. Short of going aerial this is the most all-encompassing view of town. To the right is the Pownal Valley. Downtown Williamstown is in the center.  To the left we’d see Mt. Greylock but trees block the view. The Taconic Mountain Range defines the horizon.

In the years since this photo was made visible changes have occurred including the demolition of most of the phototec mill buildings. Two of the three elementary school buildings are gone.  A new one and parking lots have consumed what were the town’s large public playing field. The new Williams library is a fresh landmark.

I wonder about the past and the future.  By about 1850 most of the land would have been open space, the forest cleared for timber and to make way for agriculture – grazing sheep would have dotted the hillsides. By 2000 the forest has mostly returned, but the once dominant chestnut tree is gone. Trees are encroaching on this lookout. It appears the ash trees will be gone soon, likely replaced with black birch and oak.

Here is where we were in 2000.

It’s in the rear view mirror, getting smaller every day.

Prints suitable for framing are available.