If you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods and heading Westbound on Route 2 for any reason, there’s a road near the little town of Charlemont that you can turn onto and follow along the Deerfield River for a while- winding past mobile homes, a picnic area, and a few hiking trails during your drive. Eventually- you’ll notice the river will be on one side of you while a never ending series of train tracks will be on the other. This is the PAS Freight Main Line- a still-active railway.
The road will narrow and you’ll find yourself on an incline- but the tracks will eventually cross right in front of you and the river will have disappeared from view. You’re officially within a short walking distance from the East Portal of the Hoosac Tunnel- one of the most unnerving places I’ve traveled to in recent days during one of my “social distancing” outings.
Construction of the tunnel began in 1851 and it wasn’t opened until 1875- after 196 men perished in multiple accidents involving explosions, collapses, and flooding. The tunnel was eventually nicknamed the “Bloody Pit” and it’s reputation for being haunted is well deserved given how ominous it looks from the outside.
There’s a clearing where visitors can park their vehicles given that the tunnel is a popular destination for foliage fans during the Fall- but it’s still an active railway and precaution must be taken when exploring. I stopped by earlier this week to finally see the legend for myself and was the only one around- which made the experience all the more eerie.
There’s a monument dedicated to the workers who built the tunnel not far from it’s entrance way- and those brave enough can actually walk into the East Portal a short ways before being plunged into absolute darkness. I opted to remain outside- both because I was alone and because there were an alarming amount of hornets flying around- but I may return in the Fall to give it another try.
The legend says if you listen carefully you can hear the agonized groans of the men who perished coming from inside the tunnel. I didn’t hear anything like that while I was there- but I also didn’t stay too long to find out if the rumors were true, either.