Hoosac Tunnel

MCLA Course Project
Erica Wilcoxen, Cassandra Lavoie

Mission statement

Our mission is to create an online space where North Adams locals can learn more about the Hoosac Tunnel and the surrounding landscape through the past, the present, and the future. We aim to bring this knowledge to the public in an immersive site that documents nature reclaiming itself while living alongside man-made structures to limit future invasion of nature’s space as it is reclaimed.

  • An example of nature “reclaiming itself while living alongside” would be the beavers that occupy the area and are constantly changing structure of the landscape as well as rebuilding it.

Basic Structure and Intended Features of the Site

The site will open with a video of the tunnel embedded in the background of the website. The video will be silent and will show the tunnel, viewer moving forward into the tunnel until the shot slowly fades into black. This will loop. We will be using the theme Twenty Seventeen because it contains all the features we have found we need, including (and especially) the embedded video feature.

The project will be designed to have several pages for easy navigation. There will be a pages titled “Life”, “Death”, “Afterlife”, and “Regrowth”. The “Life” page will contain the history of the tunnel. With the help of TimeLineJS the history can be displayed in a creative and easy-to-read way. Some of the material that will be referenced or displayed includes: letters, and mechanical/engineering documents. Also included in “Life” will be maps of the locations, setting the scene for readers to get in touch with what the builders were imagining, seeing, and thinking. “Life” sets the foundations for the future of the Hoosac Tunnel and where the next phase is.

On the “Death” page there will be a list of names of those who died in or around the Hoosac Tunnel as well as how they died if the information is available. There will be documentation of the abandoned buildings near the tunnel as well and creative writing on the “death of the space” in regards to the decline of the general vicinity over time.

“Afterlife” will layout common local lore on the tunnel including ghost stories. StoryMap will help lay out different stories and photographs at each portal (entrance) in an organized manner. On this page there will be uploaded videos crafted to express the material on the page in a different approach and to create a layered experience for the site visitor. These videos will use the history of the area to further document the space in a different way. This will be used much like a documentary style approach to telling a story.

“Regrowth” will feature nature writing of the space and explores the idea of nature reclaiming itself more directly while using the resident beavers as an example. The beavers made a home in an area that was dug through and destroyed in the past. Much like the beavers humans change landscape and continue to change it to accommodate themselves. However, when humans and beavers abandon their space, the world falls into disarray, different aspects of nature coming back to reclaim the land. With this idea in mind, there will be nature writing to capture this.

In addition to the pages, a blog will be listed as well. The blog will show both researchers (Erica and Cassandra) personal experiences and thoughts on the space throughout the process of the project. Both researchers will be updating the blog throughout the experience of doing research, making site visits, and creating the website. This personal, and slightly informal, element will add to the overall experience on the website as it adds a new perspective of the space and interactions with nature. The blog will include raw footage, audio, and photographs while exploring the landscape as a “behind-the-scenes” aspect.

Our interactions and discussion on important articles, artifacts, opinion pieces, historical society content will be included in the blog. How we received our various documents, will be an aspect of the blog. Erica will be including information about behind the scenes video editing and as mentioned, cut audio and video that did not make the final videos.


  • WordPress will with different pages for different focuses, as well as a blog.
  • TimelineJS will be used to show the history timeline.
  • StoryMap will be used to show deaths and experiences at the portals.
  • Youtube will be used to create videos to then embed into the blog.
  • iMovie will help with editing. Cameras (Nikon D3200 and phones) will aid in making videos and voice overs as needed.


Cassandra will focus on creating the timeline and StoryMap while Erica will focus on filming and editing the videos and audio for the site. Erica will be tasked with navigation as well as transportation. Cassandra will be in charge of wildlife spotting (such as beavers). Both are obligated to meeting often and communicating clearly in order to simultaneously maintain and develop the blog as a team. They will also each spend the time doing research together and individually as well as writing their personal blog posts for the site. Together they will visit the site and craft a consistent and shared voice to be used throughout the pages.


  • March 3:  Visit Historical Society, with open hours between 10am and 4pm. Collect more information about the tunnel, such as any pictures, other documents such as letters and more ghost legends.
  • March 4:  Visit the East Portal and take B-roll footage. Do nature writing at the site.
  • March 6:  First blog posts added such as “The Beginning.” Secondary blog posts will be added such as what has been collected at the historical society.
  • March 8:  Have all videos planned out. Have all archive materials laid out and chosen. Have all names of deaths found, and applicable photos if possible. Make sure blog is being updated as information is found.
  • March 15:  Incorporate names of dead into Storymap. Start videos, record voiceovers. Make sure blog is being updated as information is found.
  • March 22:  Incorporate other information in Storymap and Timeline. Make sure there is no missing or incomplete information.
  • March 27:  Rough draft of website due at 5PM. Videos finished editing, voiceovers done. Make sure blog is being updated as information is found, sections are being finished.
  • April 5:  Make changes to website. Add changes to Life and Death. Changes to videos as needed, updates and further edits.
  • April 12:  Make changes to website. Add changes to Afterlife and Regrowth. Changes to nature writing as needed. Adding photos as needed, making edits and changes as needed. Make sure to keep blog updated.
  • April 17:  Final project due at 5PM. Make final changes as needed. Very last final touches. Post final blog posts, “The Finale.”