Postcards of Bygone Worthington

by Evan Spring

This is the fourth and final online exhibit of vintage postcards from the WHS collection. Previous installments were Postcards from the Corners, Postcards from Worthington Center, and Postcards from South Worthington. These exhibits will be continually updated as new cards come to light.

The WHS archive holds dozens of postcards of bygone Worthington, mostly dating from 1907 through the 1920s. Additional cards continue to surface on Ebay and our Facebook group, revealing the breadth of postcard sending and collecting in those days of long summer retreats, poor communications, and slow transport. In 1912, the daily stage route to Williamsburg took at least four hours – which brings us to our first postcard, postmarked 1909. Let us know if you can identify any occupants of this surrey with the fringe on top.

Detail of stage passengers.

The Worthington Transportation Company was incorporated in 1909 to take people to and from the railroad in Huntington. Horse-drawn stages took three or four hours one-way, but the company advertised a “large Knox machine” (some kind of motor bus) that could carry 18 people plus freight and make the trip in 60 to 90 minutes. This venture hoped to attract weekend visitors from the Springfield area, who could leave Worthington at 6:45am Monday morning and arrive at work by 9. The next postcard, postmarked 1924, likely applies to the same company.

This postcard of the Worthington Transportation Company is not in our collection, but popped up recently on Ebay.

Other postcards in our collection feature horse-drawn transport through picturesque countryside. In both of the following examples, the people and locations are unknown:

Here’s a detail of the two ladies, in case you know them (or want to admire their hats). The card is postmarked in 1907 from South Worthington.

Horseback riding was also something to write home about.

Unsurprisingly, the Chesterfield Gorge was a popular postcard subject. This natural landmark is in Chesterfied, not Worthington, but whoever made the following postcards fudges the matter. The first card, from around 1920, faces north (upstream) from the west shore of the Westfield River. The photographer was likely standing on an abutment of the abandoned bridge, and the “Smith Pyramid” is seen in the background. The second card is taken from the same vantage point, but facing south (downstream).

The falls in West Worthington were another popular destination. 

 

Another beautiful waterfall card appears in our collection, but we’re unable to confirm if it depicts “Bradley Falls” on the Little River just below South Worthington, or Glendale Falls in Middlefield.

This artificial pond was apparently on the Little River between South Worthington and Ringville.

Indian Oven Road in Worthington was named for a rock formation near the north side of the road. The consensus at WHS is that the formation was never used by indigenous people for any purpose.

 

 

The formation is smaller than it appears on the card. Here’s a photograph from our archive for perspective.

 

 

 

The Worthington golf club was established in 1904, just in time for the golden age of postcards. This postcard is backgrounded by Worthington Corners, dominated by the Lafayette Lodge resort hotel, which burned down in 1931.

The marker on this photo reads “No. 9” and “319 Yds.”Here’s hole no. 4 at 258 yards. The woman hitting the ball has a “W” stitched into her sweater.

This later postcard of the golf club shows the wraparound porch before it was walled in to form the dining area.

Up Ridge Road from the golf club was a small hotel called the Rose Briar, which issued the postcard below.

Detail from reverse side of postcard.

The next card, postmarked 1908, features an enormous abandoned chimney at a site known informally as “Mt. Parnassus,” a reference to classical Greek mythology. Mt. Parnassus does not appear on any Worthington map. A 1912 booklet called The Western Hampshire Highlands, Massachusetts, published by the Western Hampshire Board of Trade, includes Mt. Parnassus on a sightseeing tour, placing it somewhere near West Street south of Curtis Road, and calling it “the windiest spot in town.” Worthington native Ben Brown and another witness remember a large cellar hole at a high point on the road that proceeds west into state land from “Parker Four Corners,” at the intersection of West Street and Almon Johnson Road. The cellar hole was filled in by a logging company in the 1970s or 1980s, before the land was sold to the state. Only the barest evidence of a home site remains, about 300 yards in from West Street on the right. This spot is almost certainly Mt. Parnassus, as the topography would have afforded views in all directions before reforestation. The 1873 map of Worthington shows no home site here, so the chimney was perhaps built by the original purchaser of the lot.

The WHS postcard collection is chock full of house photographs, as townspeople would contract with photographers to show off their homes on postcards. Below is a postcard of “Buffington Place” at 140 Buffington Hill Road. This elaborately detailed house in the Federal style was built by Samuel Buffington, a Revolutionary War veteran, and his wife, Lucy, in 1805-1806.

The house below – identified as “Twinbrook Farm” on the postcard, or the “Brewster-Dolby House in the WHS publication Forty Worthington Houses – is located at 135 Kinne Brook Road. The house was built in 1784 in the Federal style by Jonathan Brewster, Jr., who served as town selectman and state legislator.The Huntington Parsonage at 115 West Street (corner of Sam Hill Road) was built way back in 1771 to house Worthington’s first minister, Jonathan Huntington, and his wife, Sarah. The postcard below was made well before Jerrilee Cain restored the parsonage in the 1960s and 1970s.

Local sugar houses also had postcards. This one at Kinne Brook Farm still stands, but is no longer operational.

Windy Hill Farm’s sugar house on Sam Hill Road looks much the same today, serving up great breakfasts in sugaring season and the fall.

This postcard of the medical center on Old North Road (Route 143) is postmarked 1968.

The next postcard photo, taken around 1925 on Witt Hill Road, depicts Ringville Cemetery and its caretaker, Albert D. Bird.

Detail of Albert D. Bird.

We close this postcard exhibit with three picturesque scenes, starting in summertime. 

Postcard detail.

Postcard detail.

 

The next postcard, dating from around the 1960s, shows Earl Robinson, Dan Porter, and David McEwan logging in winter with a team of three horses.

And finally, a nice spot for a couple to relax – but not too comfortably.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Evan Spring is a jazz historian and freelance editor serving as WHS president. He moved to Worthington in 1998. 

Posted September 11, 2020.

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