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Tekoa Mountain, , is a dramatic, rocky high point overlooking the Westfield River Gorge at the eastern edge of the Berkshire plateau in the towns of Montgomerymarker and Russell, Massachusettsmarker. Tekoa Mountain, very prominent from the "Jacob's Ladder" section of U.S. Route 20 in the town of Russell, is not a true mountain but a cleaver jutting from a dissected plateau; it was produced by glacial action and through continuous erosion by the Westfield River and Moose Meadow Brook before and after the last ice age.

With nearby Shatterack Mountain, another cleaver, Tekoa Mountain forms a high knobby cliff face and gorge wall along the northeast side of the Westfield River as it plunges from the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusettsmarker into the Connecticut River Valley. Much of the face of Tekoa Mountain is barren or populated by sparse tree cover exacerbated by frequent fires which support partially fire-dependent tree species such as pitch pine and scrub oak. The mountain is also the habitat of the New England cottontail, a species in decline in Massachusetts, as well as a state endangered species which is not identified here due to problems with poaching for sale. Tekoa Mountain has been targeted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Connecticut River Valley conservation plan as a "high priority" ecosystem.

Geography

Tekoa Mountain overlooks the Westfield River Gorge and the Connecticut River Valley. The town of Russell and its villages, Woronoco and Crescent Mills, lie at the foot of the mountain along the Westfield River. From the summit ledges, the cities of Westfieldmarker and Springfield, Massachusettsmarker are visible to the east. The southwest and northeast sides of Tekoa Mountain are steep and rugged with frequent cliff faces and rocky overlooks; to the north, the topography gradually flattens out as Tekoa Mountain merges with the upland plateau of Montgomery. The southwest side of Tekoa Mountain drains into the Westfield River, thence into the Connecticut River and Long Island Soundmarker; the northeast side drains into Moose Meadow Brook, thence the Westfield River.

History

The Tekoa Mountain region was originally inhabited by Native Americans of the Woronoake tribe. During the American Revolutionary War, the north (plateau) side of the mountain was the location of a secret, pro-revolution musket factory operated by early 18th century settler Richard Falley; the summit was used as a lookout to watch for Britishmarker spies. Tekoa Mountain was named after the biblical fortress and settlement of Tekoamarker, translated alternately as a place "fastening down" or "a trumpet blast." According to 2 Books of Chronicles 11:5, Tekoa was built as a city for the defense of Judah; a high place, its elevation offered a strategic military advantage and provided a vantage point from which to send signals to Jerusalemmarker and other allied cities. It is unknown if the mountain was named with this history in mind.

Recreation

Much of Tekoa Mountain lies within the Tekoa Mountain Wildlife Management Area, managed by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The eastern portion of the mountain are part of the Westfield Watershed lands, owned by the City of Westfield, with public access provided under a Conservation Easement to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. These areas are open to hunting, hiking and other forms of non-motorized recreation. There are a few in-holdings of privately owned land. A number of unofficial trails and woods roads traverse Mount Tekoa, however, no officially designated or maintained trails exist. All motorized vehicles, including ATVs, are prohibited from the Wildlife Management Area and Watershed lands. The mountain and surrounding highland is part of a conservation effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to secure critical habitats along the greater Connecticut River Valley.

References




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