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Hoosac Tunnel, Looking out from West Portal, Mass

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Railroads had linked Boston, Massachusetts, with Troy, New York, since 1842. This railway network, however, did not extend to the more isolated towns of northern Massachusetts. Many of these towns, such as Fitchburg, Athol, Orange, and Greenfield, were developing industrial centers. Alvah Crocker was the president of a railroad line that connected Fitchburg to Greenfield. He dreamed of extending the railroad to Troy, New York. Troy, located on the Hudson River, was an important transportation hub for transporting freight between western New York and New York City. Troy was the eastern terminal of the Erie Canal, a waterway that allowed people and goods to move in and out of the rapidly developing West. Building the Greenfield-Troy Railroad involved boring a 4.75-mile tunnel under Hoosac Mountain, in western Massachusetts. This postcard features a view of the Hoosac Tunnel, an engineering marvel that cost many millions of dollars and took the lives of about 195 workers.


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