The History

The Building of the Hoosac Tunnel 



 Photo Courtesy of Hoosick Historical Society



The Hoosac Tunnel And Its Mysteries

The Materials


Work Cited



In 1819, the idea for a railway connecting Boston to Albany was suggested.  It's main purpose was to transport materials and supplies between Boston and the West.  The construction of this tunnel was only supposed to take twenty four years to finish.  However, the actual construction did not start until 1851, and once the project was underway, many problems occurred slowing the process dramatically.  Fires, explosions, and falling rocks were only a few of the problems the engineers encountered.

The construction of the tunnel began with two separate tunnels, not just one.  The first tunnel was a complete failure.  There were too many explosives used during the initial blasting that when the contractors began working,  the first tunnel collapsed and was not usable.

The reason for the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel taking thirty two years from the very first suggestion to the actual construction was because the cost of materials, labor, and other necessary products were outrageously expensive.  The government did not want to fund the project, and the citizens of North Adams did not want to pay higher taxes.  After many meetings and years of fighting, the government decided to raise the taxes and the people of North Adams were forced to foot the bill.  The proposed cost of the project was projected between $370,000 and $920,832 causing an outcry in the city.  The townspeople were furious.  Their taxes were raised higher than ever before and people could barely afford to live.  Nonetheless, the tunnel's construction continued.

Altogether, the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel took 195 lives before being completed in 1875.  This "Bloody Pit" is said to be haunted by the ones who died while trying to complete the construction of the tunnel.  Coming in at just over five miles long, the creation of tunnel number two was a complete success.

After the construction of the tunnel was complete there were fans installed into the sides of it.  When the trains would go by they would give off hot fumes which would cause fires.  Hence, the fans were installed and the problem ceased to exist.  These fans would start once a train was on the move and shut off once the train had gone by.  This tunnel, located on the Hoosac Mountain, means forbidden in the Mohawk language.  

Much of the construction on the tunnel was done by Irish immigrants.  Many of the Irish people came over for a better life, but many of them found themselves without jobs.  Seeing as how they were not natural born citizens of the United States they found themselves doing hard labor, with very little pay.  The Irish had no choice but to work the long hours that many Americans would not do.  The more immigrants that came in, the more jobs they found, but not ones that they liked. However, these Irish immigrants could not quit their jobs because they had families to feed and bills to pay.  Living in America wasn't cheap.   

 Last Updated: April 30, 2008