GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY OF THE SOUTHERN BERKSHIRES: IMPACT AND IMPLICATIONS ON THE TRANSPORT OF CANNON FROM FORT TICONDEROGA, NY TO BOSTON, MA, 1775-1776
In addition to the drastic conditions of winter 1775-1776, this “noble train of artillery” negotiated the rugged and unknown area of the Taconic and Berkshire ranges in western Massachusetts. The Hudson River was the “highway” of choice in NY and once Westfield, MA was reached Knox was able to travel quickly on the Boston Post Road. However, the Taconic and Berkshire ranges presented the most difficult challenges of the expedition. Few east-west roads existed in the region and the ranges had long presented barriers to westward expansion.
Deformed in the Taconic and Acadian Orogenies, the rocks of the Taconic thrust sheets and the Berkshire Massif represent two upland areas in western Massachusetts separated by a lowland area underlain by the easily eroded Stockbridge Marble. The Berkshire Massif is bounded on the east by the Middlefield Thrust and the sediments of the Hartford and Deerfield Basins.
This section of trail through western Massachusetts presented the biggest difficulties in getting the artillery train to Boston. The geology along the route of the expedition will be illustrated via overlays in Google Earth. Knox was able to accomplish the task and delivered the weaponry to a grateful General Washington on January 24, 1776 and the cannon, mortars and howitzers were mounted on Dorchester Heights and were used to drive the British from Boston on Evacuation Day, March 17, 1776.