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The Hoosac Tunnel was one of the great engineering marvels of the mid-19th century. The tunnel was first proposed in 1826 as a canal tunnel, but the Massachusetts State Legislature balked at the high cost. Construction finally began in 1851 as railroad interests demanded a northern route across Massachusetts. But technical problems meant that significant progress was made only after 1866 with the introduction of nitroglycerine. When the two ends were finally connected on November 27, 1873, they were only nine-sixteenths of an inch off. The tunnel was finished in 1875. It is four and three-quarter miles long, 22 feet wide at the base and 24 feet high, and is still in use.
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