Historical photos of Bear Hole, Mittineague Park and other related.
Special thank you to David Cousineau of Cape Neddick, Maine for sharing Masse family photos from Bear Hole, to
Bill Ashley for researching the old railroad line that traversed Mittineague Park's peninsula, The Town of West Springfield for providing us with photos of the Bear Hole Reservoir re-construction and post Hurricane Diane destruction, as well as to Robert Gubala for photos from Millville Road and Massasoit Spring in Bear Hole that he researched at the Holyoke Library historical archives.
If you have photos to share, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Railroad underpass at the top of Millville Road in Bear Hole 1902. Passage leads to currently day Ashley Reservoir, but is filled in to prevent off-roaders from entering Ashley. Shown in photo C. Robert Wilhelm. He was a German immigrant and active with Holyoke's German community. Wilhelm was mechanically minded and owned his own company, Wilhelm and Derich’s Bottling Company. This photo was taken from the West Springfield side, current day Millville Road. Ashley Reservoir is in the background. Photo c/o Robert Gubala and the Holyoke Library historical archives.
Bear Hole circa 1902 (photographed by Alphonse Massse) Massse brothers and families posting outside the bear's den. ℅ David T. Cousineau - Cape Neddick, Maine. Bear's Den was a focal point for people patronizing the Bear Hole Restaurant. 3 legged bear from the Adirondacks. From left to right: Clarinda, Nelida, child - Irene, Leontine, Simeon, child - Andrew, Arthur holding child Herman, Emery, child - Ernest, Victoria holding baby - Herman (?)
June 2010. Comparison photo. Current day remnants of the Bear Hole Restaurant "bear's den". Looking at what would have been the "den's" front. Top section of the gate shown in preceding photo (Masse brothers) - flip the gate upside down for a match to this photo and below (Black Bear and unidentified man). Lower right corner is an underground cavity that's suspected to have been part of the den. Den wall remnants visible to the left, center and rear right. Was not a large enclosure compared to today's humane standards. Located within a hill. To the far right would be the cascading waterfall within the restaurant glen.
The black bear & unidentified man at the bear's den at the Bear Hole resort. Photo approx year: 1897-1908. 3 legged bear from the Adirondacks. Notice the box "Pillsbury's Vitos". This wheat based breakfast food product was introduced by Pillsbury in 1897 and became the company's best selling wheat cereal by 1908. By 1908 the Bear Hole Restaurant no longer existed. Demolished for the creation of the reservoir watershed. So based on the "Vitos" facts and Bear Hole's evolution, this photo is safely dated 1897 to no later than 1906.
Magnificent waterfall at Bear Hole along Paucatuck Brook. This is above the restaurant at the current day overpass enroute to the resort's glen. To the right was a grassy area used for picnicking and cookouts. Now reverted to forest. Opposite side of the waterfall was a man made pond that was used for row boats. The pond had a high enough water level to feed the waterfall seen here.
Bear Hole day resort / restaurant built over Paucatuck Brook & boardwalk leading to Massasoit Spring. An impressive two-story open air structure. A "Howes Brothers" photograph. Notice the boardwalk at the photo's bottom, which lead to Massasoit Spring. Chimney, which is still standing today. The restaurant began operating around 1876 until its demise at approximately the turn of the century when the town took the land by eminent domain for the creation of the reservoir watershed.
Comparison photo. Current day Bear Hole chimney situated on a steep hill along Paucatuck Brook. Over 140 years old. In recent years masonry rehab work was done to the base to help ensure the structure's integrity and to help prevent collapse. Work was coordinated by the West Springfield Historical Commission. The chimney is easily viewed when visiting the restaurant glen.
Hurricane Diane 1955. Road washout & dam breached / reservoir drained. Road washout, notice the white garage, which is still standing today. When the dam breached the reservoir was reverted back to its natural state - a brook. The cement structure shown is still present today and was part of an intake spillway. The reservoir is man made and technically part of Paucatuck Brook.
August 20, 1957. Grading of embankment which we suspect to be behind the current day Bear Hole pumping station. Top right you can see what is presumed to be the above ground portion of one of the current day aeration / filter beds. This work was part of the pumping station's new construction post Hurricane Diane, August 1955. Photo by Neil Doherty
Central New England Railroad bridge spanning the Westfield River. "Feeding Hills Line"/"Agawam Junction". Looking from Robinson State Park towards Mittineague Park peninsula. The trestle across was in place by September 1899 and the first passenger car crossed September 8, 1902. The rail track was built by a pick and shovel crew who used mules. The bridge was built by the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. An outfit by the name Ryan and Kelly, of Philadelphia, graded the route. Passenger service ended 1921. Freight service continued until July 1, 1938. 1938 the line was legally abandoned. January 1, 1927 the CNE Railroad merged to become the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. Bridge was intact until sometime between 1938 and early 1940s when it was scrapped for the WWII scrap metal drive. Large stone abutments, one shown here in the river, are still present today on the park's peninsula and at Robinson State Park. The track traversed the park's peninsula and connected to the Boston & Albany Railroad tracks, current day CSX tracks. Research c/o Bill Ashley.