Looming over the Deerfield River Valley atop Whitcomb Summit there is a peculiar sight, a strange animal stands stalwart against the harsh winds and freezing temperature that persist at the highest point on the Mohawk Trail. On closer inspection, the creature reveals its true nature. For the animal in question is not quite as lively as expected, instead the figure is a statue casted in gleaming bronze depicting the noble Elk. Dedicated on June 17, 1923 the statue celebrates members of the Massachusetts Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks who died fighting in World War I. The statue honors their memories by remaining the one constant figure throughout Whitcomb Summit’s years of upheaval. Though the cabin and ownership may change hands, the Summit will stand, and the Elk will remain a beacon to travelers.
Whitcomb Summit was founded by early settlers to Western Massachusetts. The original Whitcomb family owned the property for decades, but on June 7, 1920 the Summit became what it is today. Transforming into one of the first roadside shops and reststops on the Mohawk Trail. With the rise of the personal automobile, Americans were now able to go on road trips to places that had past been disconnected from their lives entirely. Unfortunately, the sparse dirt roads of America could not properly accommodate these new cars. To make up for this, roads were built across the country, including the Mohawk Trail of Massachusetts in 1914. These roads brought great opportunities for local business and the attractions sprung up to meet the surge of new travelers. That is where Whitcomb Summit was born, as a previously disconnected family-owned, high altitude retreat became a favorite spot for tourists and vacationers to sleep at or purchase souvenirs.
During Whitcomb Summit’s heyday the resort was positively packed. Cars would circulate as if it were a roadshow. However, those days could not last forever. Due to the rise of Interstate highways during the post WWII era as well as the cultural shift to get to places as fast as possible, Whitcomb Summit began to suffer like all scenic roadside locations. From the fifties onward, Whitcomb Summit changed hands every decade or so. However, there remain attempts to update and restore the aging Summit and continue its role as a leading Mohawk Trail destination.