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Hoosic River Lighting Art, North Adams, Mass, April 26, 2008


A team of artists and lighting experts placed luminous art in the drab and long-ignored flood-control chutes in North Adams, Mass. One estimate said that 3,000 people attended its opening night. I think it might have been more. Opinions of it varied. Personally, I liked it a lot. (All photos by Mark E. Rondeau)


Light flows through a tube and into the exhibit.




The lights turn green. This part of the exhibition took place along River Street. Many people looked at it from the bridge over the river perpendicular to River Street on Holden Street.



The other main attraction of the show was this light display near MASS MoCA — once the headquarters of the Sprague Electric Co. — that reflected off the river. This display was about a quarter mile west of the main display, and was best visible from the south side of the river, just west of the car wash.


The twilight deepens. Looking west, in the opposite direction from the first photo. This chute channels the north branch of the Hoosic. About a half mile west of this spot, it joins up with the south branch of the Hoosic, also channeled in a chute. Then the unified river flows northwest through Vermont into New York and eventually into the Hudson River.


Kind of spectacular. Notice the trickle of the river below. Hard at times to imagine the floods my parents saw in North Adams in the late 1930s and 1940s. The Army Corps of Engineers built the chutes in large part due to the influence of John C. Sprague, owner of the Sprague Electric Company, who had served in the Eisenhower administration.


All the previous photos were taken from the north side of the river. This was taken from the south side, from property which is near the parking lot of the Northern Berkshire District Court. When I was growing up this was property of the Sprague Research Center.



Mark Rondeau - Writer, Editor, Photographer