Hoosac Tunnel

The Western Gateway of New England

Off of Church St., North Adams

Our Review

The Western Gateway of New England

Toward the end of the Industrial Revolution, despite all the railroads being built, there still wasn’t an easy way for people to travel from Boston to Albany. The Hoosac Mountain Range was a fierce obstacle for engineers at the time. In 1851 the 4.75 mile Hoosac tunnel began construction, a project that lasted 24 years, killed an estimated 196 people, and exceeded it’s proposed budget by $19 million. Today the Hoosac Tunnel is still an active commercial railway. 

The achievement of being declared a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers was not without high cost. One of the deadliest days happened after fumes ignited, causing an explosion that killed the workers digging the tunnel’s 1,000-foot vertical central exhaust shaft. The explosion set the hoist on fire killing all of the workers inside.

Throughout the years there have been several accounts of hauntings or spiritual experiences in the area. Some adventurous souls can still explore some of the old shaft entrances. The West Portal is located in the town of North Adams. Off Church Street, which parallels the railroad tracks, close to where it intersects West Shaft Road, is a path through the woods. The West entrance is a third of a mile down it.

Once the longest tunnel in North America (until 1916 when it was beaten by Moffat Tunnel in the Rockies). If you’re curious for more facts on the Hoosac Tunnel, visit the Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams for a deep dive into the engineering and amazing masonry brickwork involved in its construction.