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Where the Mohawk Trail Crosses the Hoosac Tunnel, Berkshire Hills
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The Mohawk Trail was one of the earliest turnpike roads in Massachusetts. Chartered in 1797, the company hoped to prosper by improving the already-existing road linking western Massachusetts with the Connecticut River Valley. Other efforts to improve trade and communication included a proposal to dig a canal boat tunnel through the Hoosac Mountain in 1819. This project failed, but in 1848 the newly-chartered Troy & Greenfield Railroad began surveying and planning the construction of a 4.75 mile long tunnel. Work began in 1851 and the first train went though the tunnel in 1875. The Hoosac tunnel was one of the great engineering feats of the 19th century. Engineers pioneered many new technologies for blasting through hard rock, including the use of 500,000 pounds of nitroglycerin, a powerful and highly unstable explosive. The Hoosac Tunnel remains the longest transportation tunnel east of the Rocky Mountains.
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