With legislative authorization, the Massachusetts Fisheries & Game Commission in 1916 trolled Western Massachusetts for a new fish hatchery site, announcing the surprise decision two years later: land in the Maple Grove section of Adams, part of the Cheshire Harbor cotton mill owner Elisha Jenks’ (1800-1871) estate. Widow Sarah A. Jenks (1819-1902) carved off an acre of her massive inherited holdings — now 169 Grove St. (Route 8).
By 1899, there were 200,000 inch-long trout in the hatchery, managed by Dr. Stephen C. Burton (1849-1923), physician at House of Mercy and Berkshire House of Correction. The fries were fed cheese curds. The Hoosac Valley Street Railway in 1939 installed an informational trackside sign, No. 39, advising the hatchery supplied 250,000 fish annually to local waterways.
Why this location? “The water,” answered the North Adams Transcript in a 1915 story, “which does not differ from that to be found almost anywhere within the limits of the town is about as near the purest kind that can be found anywhere. It is just about the proper temperature for the raising of fingerlings and its abundance as well as its exhilarating coolness and liveliness is just about the proper thing for the early days of the trout that are later to be transferred to the books of the state and after they have reached the legal size are to be the legitimate prey of sportsmen.” The fish were reared through a series of tanks. Harry Sheldon then managed the hatchery.
There was a rival, private hatchery in Hartsville (New Marlborough) built by Dr. Samuel Camp (1829-1901), of Great Barrington, in the 1850s and nurtured into the Berkshire Trout Hatchery Club, which had a two-story clubhouse, dining room and smoke room. Some trout were sold to stock Stockbridge Bowl. The family of the next owner, John S. Scully (1844-1914), after his death offered it to the United States in 1917 — free. Legislators manipulated a funding bill so there were seemingly redundant fisheries in the county.
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The Adams hatchery closed. Albert Singer (1891-1982), a native of France who came with his parents to Adams in 1899, purchased the brick building and caretaker cottage in 1920 for $1,200. A veteran of World War I, Singer had worked as a carpenter for many years. He and his brother Charles opened a garage and later had a filling station and confectionery and tobacco store at 175 Grove St. In 1924, they began to bottle soda water and market ginger ale and other flavors countywide.
“Drink BERKSHIRE SPRING SODAS Pure Water, pure Flavoring, Sanitary Manufacturing,” they advertised. In 1926, the Springers installed a new sterilizing bottle washing machine. “The Singer Brothers report that once more tourists in large numbers are stopping at the springs,” The Transcript said.
In 1926, the Singers had a booth at the widely attended Industrial Exhibit. In 1931, the Singers showed off a truckload of their products in the July 4th parade. Bottles sold for 5 cents, 15 cents or 29 cents for Pale Dry. Two years later, the Singers expanded, offering dining and dancing every night. They opened a beer garden.
They persevered through sugar rationing during World War II, but in 1945 sold the business to Coca-Cola Bottling of Pittsfield — whose manager, Charles E. Newton Jr., confirmed the purpose was to secure the establishment’s sugar ration allotment. The price was $6,000 and included all equipment, bottles, cases and truck, as well as trademarks. Coca-Cola leased the building for 30 months, leaving the equipment intact.
Albert Singer, by then sole owner, thanked the community for its patronage “And Assure You That We Hope to Again Serve You in the Future When Business Conditions Return to Normal.” (P.S. All bottles should be returned by Aug. 1.)
The plant was mothballed, but Albert Singer started up again, and sold again in 1952 to G&A Bottling Co., which three years later took on a Charles E. Hires bottling franchise. Ulric J. Gelinas was president. Business was strong in Singer true-fruit and other flavors, sold alongside Hires Root Beer. Sand Springs Bottling Co. merged with the business in 1961 and operations were consolidated in Williamstown. Sand Springs-Hires Bottling also distributed Bubble Up.
Robert DeGeres acquired the Grove Street property in 1963 and opened a camping and travel trailer sales and rental business.
Sand Springs Hires Bottling shut down in 1966, the enterprise declared insolvent. Seven-Up Bottling of Berkshire took over the Hires franchise.
Yet another bottler in Adams outlasted these rivals. Piotr Gwozdz’s orange, grape and ginger ale (among other flavors) plant opened on Summer Street in 1920, later moving to Howland Avenue. Continued by two later family generations, it was affiliated with Orange Squeeze Bottling, of New Orleans, according to a 2013 Berkshire Eagle story by Derek Gentile.
Its logo of a boy and girl sitting on a bench was adapted from a Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell.
The company was sold in 1999 and removed to New Hampshire.
That caps the story.