Friday, November 19, 2021

Something More About the Hoosac Tunnel

Fright at the end.

I’ve read Pittsburgh has a tunnel going through a mountain.  So does western Massachusetts but don’t hear too many people singing about it.  Search for the word “Hoosac” on this site, and you’ll find references to a fictional city in Minnesota.  There are also a few references to the namesake 4.75-mile railroad tunnel running through the similarly named Hoosac mountain range. I've read about the Hoosac tunnel’s eerie history before, and our friends at Strange Company published something about it earlier this year, too.  

The nearly five-mile-long Hoosac Tunnel has been called “The Bloody Pit,” and no one can say it hasn’t earned the nickname. It even looks ghost-ridden. It is a pitch-black, bone-chilling cold, narrow corridor, carved out of the base of a mountain range. It took 24 years to build, and no less than 192 workers died during construction.
Men fell down the tunnel’s thousand-foot deep center shaft.  Men were burned alive.  Men were blown to bits by nitroglycerine explosions.  A not-untypical disaster involved three workers, Ned Brinkman, Billy Nash, and Ringo Kelley.  Kelley accidentally set off some explosives, burying the other two men alive.  Instead of running for help, Kelley fled the scene, leaving his coworkers to their fate.  One year later, Kelley’s dead body was found in the tunnel, at the same spot where Brinkman and Nash had died.  It was widely believed that the ghosts of his victims had gotten their revenge.  In 1868, three years after this triple tragedy, a mechanical engineer named Paul Travers wrote to his sister:

“Last night Mr. Dunn and I entered the great tunnel (unfinished) at 9 p.m.  We traveled about two miles into the shaft and then stopped to listen.  As we stood there in the cold silence, we both heard what truly sounded like a man groaning out in pain.  As you know, I have heard that sound many times during the war.  Yet when we turned the wicks up on our lamps, there were no other human beings in the shaft.  I haven’t been this frightened since Shiloh.  Mr. Dunn agreed that it wasn’t the wind we heard.  Perhaps Nash or Brinkman?  I wonder.”

Although the Hoosac is still used by the occasional freight train, it’s main purpose nowadays is to scare the bejeebers out of visitors.  To this day, people report hearing ominous moans and seeing strange lights and apparitions in and around the tunnel.  Some bolder souls have walked through the tunnel, and generally regret doing so, as they often report the unnerving feeling of being closely followed by...something.

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