Historic Auto Trails of Massachusetts

Historic auto trails predate the U.S. highway system created in 1926. Such trails were usually given evocative names and marked with colored bands painted on utility poles.

Western Massachusetts is endowed with many scenic historic auto trails. These trails were popular with residents and visitors, and generally crossed the Berkshire Hills and related ranges. They therefore typically follow an east-west direction. Early tourist maps and brochures of the Berkshires promoted these scenic roads. The trails continued to be marketed as scenic attractions long after highways were numbered; and, indeed, until the present day.

Another trail in nearby Vermont: Most trails would have some sort of food or lodging even if just a simple farmhouse turned auto camp or tourist home. In the town center, you might find an inn-restaurant from the stagecoach era. In the cities, you could stay at a full-fledged hotel. The busier trails also included souvenir stands, and perhaps a summit house with a wooden look-out tower to better enjoy a vista. Souvenirs included souvenir china and glasses, postcards and booklets, decals, pillow cases and pennants.

Muddy River Press hopes to publish Historic Auto Trail Guides that cover all of these trails. The first is already available for the Mohawk Trail and the related Taconic Trail.

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