Revived Wigwam gift shop adds food truck, North Berkshire tourism info
NORTH ADAMS -- After several years of dormancy, the Wigwam gift shop on the Mohawk Trail is back in action.
Local businessman Keith Bona has teamed up with property owners Roger and Colleen Hurst to reopen the popular tourist spot at the top of the Hairpin Turn along with a new addition -- a food truck operated by Colleen Hurst.
The shop and eatery opened last Friday.
Along with the view, the operators hope the food truck -- known as the Mountain Top Grill -- and the gift shop will serve as an attraction to get folks to stop, get a snack, check out the shop, and think about stopping to see the attractions in the North Adams area.
According to Roger Hurst, who is retired from the security business, the couple are in the final stages of moving from their 18-year home in New Rochelle, N.Y., to the house adjacent to the shop, which overlooks the entire valley.
"It has great views, and it has the added advantage of having something to keep us busy," he said.
He noted that a lot of people drive by their spot, and many of them stop just to see the view.
And a number of the folks who live on Florida Mountain have stopped in to welcome the Hursts to their new place.
"They're happy to see somebody here again," Roger Hurst said. "It's been vacant for so long."
The landmark viewing spot was built in 1914 along with the Mohawk Trail. The Wigwam site opened in 1930, at a time when motoring on the Mohawk Trail was popular.
The husband-wife team Hans-Werner and Inna Gertje owned the tourist site for nearly 30 years. They sold the property in 2005 for $425,000 to Stephen Andrews and his wife, Karen.
The Berkshire Natural Resources Council bought the property and about 730 acres of abutting land in 2009 for $470,000 to launch the Hoosac Range Trail for hikers.
In 2010, Nancy Fitzpatrick, owner of The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, bought the 3.88-acre site, which includes the house and gift shop, from the Berkshire Natural Resources Council for $275,000.
But plans for the site didn't work out, so the Fitzpatricks sold the site to the Hursts earlier this year.
Bona, who is also partner and operator of the Berkshire Emporium on Main Street in North Adams, manages the shop.
"It's a unique (business) relationship -- we split the responsibilities and we split the profit," he said.
He said the shop provides an opportunity for more than just selling some food and souvenirs -- it's a chance to educate some of the visitors about what they can see in the Berkshires.
"The majority of people are travelers stopping for the view, but they don't know what they're looking at," Bona said. "What I'm hearing is that they don't know what's down the road and don't plan to stop."
But once they learn what's down the hill -- attractions like MASS MoCA, Mount Greylock and The Clark -- "they can be pretty easily persuaded to change their route."
He plans to mount more signage and a tourist's guide map on the fencing along the ridge to educate more folks about what's in store for them in the Berkshires. On the sign over the door, shoppers can see that the shop offers antiques, gifts, crafts and information.
Bona noted that more than 200 people stopped by on Saturday alone. They were coming from places like Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, New Mexico, Washington, Sweden, Germany, England and Japan.
"It's a great spot to grab tourists and draw them into North Adams," Bona said. "And it's absolutely a historic landmark, so I'm excited to be a part in getting it open."
To reach Scott Stafford:
or (413) 663-3741, ext. 227.
On Twitter: @BESStafford
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.