For a decade or two in the early 20th century, Stevens Glen was one of the Berkshires’ premiere sightseeing destinations for the social elite. This wonderful place no longer turns up in society page accounts, but it retains its powerful hold on the imagination, and, as we shall see, is more democratically accessible than it used to be. Stevens Glen is hidden in the heart of the Berkshires, not far from Tanglewood.
In the early 1900s, farmer Romanzo Stevens build a series of rough wooden staircases, ladders and platforms to afford views of his falls to the carriage trade. Tourists from Lenox, Stockbridge, Richmond and Pittsfield came here to visit and picnic, paying Stevens 25 cents a head for the privilege. Mark Twain was among those who signed the guest register. In 1995, Millard and Frederic Pryor, successors in title to Stevens, gave the land to Berkshire Natural Resources Council and the Richmond Land Trust. This great act of generosity reopened Stevens Glen to the public after three-quarters of a century. The final thanks must go to Peter Jensen and Bernard Kirchner of Openspace Management. These fine trail builders are responsible for the trail, the bridges and the viewing platform, all outstanding examples of making wilderness accessible without demolishing it in the process. All this, of course, with the spirit of Romanzo Stevens looking on, perhaps from one of the hemlock trees holding so tenaciously to the rock walls of the glen.