Hamer's Landslide

In March 1936, on the day of the flood that year, an event that caused substantial damage occurred on West Main Street near Richview Avenue at the same time that the Hoosic River was taking its toll elsewhere. 

The ten-stall Hamer Garage and radio repair shop stood at the bottom of a steep hill opposite 413-415 West Main Street -- a two tenement apartment dwelling where Fire Chief John E. Saulnier made his home.  Chief Saulnier’s car was garaged across the street at Hamer’s. 

Suddenly the steep embankment collapsed without warning sending rocks, boulders, large trees and mud careening into well-traveled West Main Street and closing Route 2 access to Williamstown.  The Hamer building was town apart and joined the other debris coming down the hill.  The landslide reached as far as the Saulnier front door and the chief’s automobile was destroyed.  It took days with a steam shovel to clear away the wreckage and reopen the thoroughfare. 

The four floods that swept this valley in the early decades of the past century were so much alike that when one reads about them and sees photographs of the devastation wrought, it is difficult to distinguish one from another.  In all of these disasters the same neighborhoods were affected in the same manner.  An exception was at Brooklyn Street where the pavement and sidewalks were destroyed in every flood except that of 1936 when strangely, the Wheeler Brook remained within its banks. 

Adapted from a story for the North Adams Historical Society.