Lyon travelled across the country by stagecoach in her efforts to raise money for the school. She had to overcome many obstacles, both economic and ideological. The country was in a depression at the time, and people had very little money to donate; furthermore, there were many people who felt that women were unable to deal with the demands of higher education.
But Lyon succeeded. When it opened, Mount Holyoke was a school with rigorous entrance requirments, a demanding curriculum, and an endowment that kept it from closing its doors. Mount Holyoke remains a women's college today, with many illustratious graduates (including farwing and lordavon).
(On a personal note, my Mom attended Mount Holyoke for a year before she transferred to Barnard. She still receives the Holyoke alumnae magazine.)
For more information:
History of Mount Holyoke College
Wikipedia: Mount Holyoke College