Arts & Culture

Monument Mountain

From our archives.

Highlights from the Past

On a hot summer day in August, not unlike this one, Nathanial Hawthorne was invited out to Stockbridge to “ascend Monument Mountain.” During this hike he met Herman Melville for the first time and the party was caught in an intense rain shower. Escape from the intense rain led to an intense friendship between the two authors and the publication of Moby Dick, now considered one of the great American novels.

Melville’s biographer Laurie Robertson-Lorant notes that Melville was “infatuated with Hawthorne’s intellect, captivated by his artistry, and charmed by his elusive personality.” During their time in Stockbridge and in subsequent conversations, Melville drew inspiration from Hawthorne’s works to explore the darker side of humanity as he wrote Moby Dick.

Importance to the Munsee-Stockbridge Mohicans

While we enjoy sharing this story from our archives it is important to center and elevate the history of this special place.

In 2021, with guidance from the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohicans, The Trustees changed the names of a trail and the peak of Monument Mountain, learn more about that work here.

Have you ever wondered where Monument Mountain got its name? The mountain, known as Maaswuseexay (Mas-wa-SE-hi) in Mohican language—meaning “A nest standing up” or “Fisher’s nest”—is a part of the homelands of the Mohican people. Mohican territory extends throughout today’s Berkshire County and the Hudson River Valley. The Mohican people thrived there for thousands of years before they were dispossessed of their ancestral homelands by English colonists and forced to move west in the late 1700s. According to historical accounts, Monument Mountain was likely named for the immense sacred stone “monument” created by the Mohican people who lived and passed by the mountain.

Monument Mountain, like so many of these special places, is a place of reflection and reverence. How has hiking here inspired you? Plan a visit and share your stories on Instagram!

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