Digital Commonwealth

Hoosac Tunnel Collection

North Adams Public Library

The Hoosac Tunnel was constructed from 1852 to 1873 through the Hoosac Mountain in northwestern Massachusets, between North Adams and the town of Florida. It was conceived as part of a transportation link between the markets of Boston and the Midwest along the newly chartered Troy and Greenfield Railroad line. The Hoosac Tunnel was controversial from its inception, and was fought over contentiously in the press and in the Massachusetts legislature, but upon completion it was celebrated as a triumph of engineering and vision. At four and three quarter miles long, the Hoosac Tunnel was, at that time, the longest railroad tunnel in the United States, a distinction it retained until 1916. Construction inspired many innovations in rock excavation, including the use of pneumatic drills, nitroglycerin, and electric blasting caps. However, it was plagued by financial problems from the beginning. First estimated to cost $2 million, the total cost of the tunnel was more than $14 million. 195 workers were killed during its construction. The last passenger train traversed the tunnel in 1958, but the tunnel is still an important link in the freight route from New England to the Midwest.

The Hoosac Tunnel Collection at North Adams Public Library documents the construction (1852-1873) and subsequent history of the Hoosac Tunnel in western Massachusets along the Troy and Greenfield Railroad line. The Hoosac Tunnel Collection is not an organic collection. It is a collection of the disparate materials that have found their way into the North Adams Public Library through various means, not always documented or remembered.

Locations in this Collection: