This is my first time visiting Hoosac Tunnel. We thought we knew where we were going but we were definitely not in the right location when we first set off on first. Second time trying to find the dirt path, completely covered by snow, was much more successful. We parked the car in a plowed spot and started our adventure. To our right: a small building. We made a note to visit it on the way back to the car. Our main focus was to just get to the tunnel.
Stumbling along up towards the tracks, I was excited to see them stretch out to my left and my right. We go right, wondering if this was the direction we needed to head towards to get to the Hoosac Tunnel. The crisp snow crunched under my boots. I run forward arms out on both side, the contents of my backpack jumping around as I stumbled forward trying, and failing, to keep my balance. I’m sure I looked like a little kid running home from the bus stop. We didn’t actually cross the tracks but we did note a small stream on the other side and not long after we noticed another possible stream on our side of the tracks (after almost stepping directly into it).
Walking up to the tunnel, the West Portal to be exact, was not as “creepy” as I had expected. Looking back on the moment I feel like that may have been because of the snow that covered everything in the area. It’s hard to understand just how large the tunnel is until you’re standing at the entrance. It becomes even clearer when you see someone else standing at the entrance. The tunnel was decorated in graffiti and a common tag found locally: “You’re going to be okay” was just on the outside of the tunnel. The inside of the tunnel looked unwelcoming. The snow itself didn’t dare to venture inside the endless darkness.
Unexpectedly, we found that the closer we got to the tunnel, the warmer it got. I have had friends describe the tunnel to me beforehand and everyone always describes the tunnel as freezing, especially in the winter. The air seemed to stand still beside the tunnel. Maybe it was the history of deaths in the “Bloody Pit” (as the tunnel is sometimes referred to) that added to the eerie feeling while standing just outside. But the longer I stood there, the more I was able to dismiss that uneasy feeling and enjoy exploring the outside of the tunnel, making excited remarks about the most unexciting things: the track wasn’t directly in the middle of the tunnel but closer to the side, closer to the small stream. Why?
We decided to backtrack before stopping by the building near the car. There was a brick building falling apart just above the tracks. Was this where they originally tried to bore into the mountain? There was a hole filled with dirt. It looked like there were tracks on the ground. The corner of the roof was missing. I have no idea what this place was actually used for. Maybe it was built over the original site and then was used for other purposes later on? I’m really unsure of what to think about it as of right now.
Between the two unknown buildings: beavers. I have never felt so excited about beavers before in my life. We didn’t see a beaver, but after identifying a tree that was clearly gnawed on, we ran back and realized we had walked right past a dam without realizing it was even there. I don’t know what it was about that particular experience that made it so exciting when we didn’t even see a beaver. I had seen a beaver walking down my street once and didn’t think anything of it. But here I was, jumping like I was having the time of my life (I was), pointing at the dam repeatedly.
We took a look into this smaller structure, and the first thing we see: “you are going to be ok” again. This area feels secluded from the rest of town, but the tag reminds us of where we are, that even though we aren’t surrounded by people, people have been here and people will be here. Despite the graffiti in the three locations in this area, there was no litter that we could see, and the area did not look like it had been destroyed by people visiting. I hope the snow melts by the time we visit the tunnel again so we can take a closer look at the area.
I hope the beavers are having a good winter.