HT&W excursion Monroe Bridge to Bear Swamp Hydroelectric

The Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington Railroad "a.k.a. the Hoot Toot & Whistle" was a much loved narrow gauge Railroad that originally went from the Hoosac Tunnel Station in Rowe MA all the way to Wilmington VT. Over time it was gradually decimated by power plant construction. First the Harriman Reservoir in Whitingham/Wilmington restricted it to Readsboro, then Yankee Atomic in Rowe MA restricted it to Monroe, and finally Bear Swamp Hydroelectric killed it once and for all! The original RR was a narrow gauge, so mainline B&M traffic could not travel its route. Ultimately It was converted at for power plant construction. The railroad was windy and awkward at points and was called by some as a "cliffhanger". This page is a photo documentary of the section between Monroe bridge, and Bear Swamp Hydroelectric. This entire hike took me about 2.5 hours including time for taking pictures. It is not very strenuous. There are no "no trespassing signs" along what I hiked so you should be alright. At the very least the north section is open to the public.

Map of area covered. Green dots indicate start and stop points. This map is from when the RR was active, and before the road on the west side was rerouted, and before Bear Swamp Hydroelectric was built.


All pictures are in order from Northern most to south. most are taken looking in a southerly direction. CLICK TO ENLARGE!


The gate near the Bridge. Do not park here! Park at the town library which isn't far away!

The Old Glassine factory, closed since the 80s

Monroe Bridge, and Deerfield 5 dam

The Grade, notice its in very nice shape here! My car could pass this just fine!

More pictures of the very interesting and very dead factory.


Looking northward, still a nice grade. Notice the retaining wall, this is a long one!

Plastic Pipe. These are all over the place, I am not sure how old they are.

Still well groomed, I am not sure why they keep this in such nice shape.

Large piece of metal that had washed downstream presumably from Monroe. This is about 1/2 mile down stream.

Still nice and passable, how long will it last?

Old Railroad tie. These can be found in abundance on the river side of the old grade.

A washout that was patched by a giant concrete and metal slab. You can see this from the road on the other side of the river, I always thought it was a bridge! seems overkill for the relatively minor washout. Perhaps it serves another purpose?

Making a turn! yippie!

Entering another straightaway.

The first glimpse of flat land on the mountain side of the grade about 1 mile south of Monroe Bridge.


Along the flat area, notice the abundance of frost. It was 20 freaking degrees that morning (and when this picture was taken) darn middle of November temperatures!

The grade is still drivable by car after over a mile! So far so good!

The only stone bridge remaining on this section. of the old RR

The other side of the bridge.

Coming towards a man made water trap (pool) on the right.

Looking north, the pool, and a bunch of cut lumber. So far the old grade is well maintained and all brush and fallen branches have been recently cut away.

An exciting find! a 20 or 25 foot section of rail!

This is as far as a car could take you. after this it gets a little choppy

the park in Florida MA. That park is built at part of the old road (which was rerouted for the reservoir and power plant) the Old road used to follow the river more closely. you can still drive on it for a little ways before you are stopped by a fence. This road leads to the new Deerfield 5 (the old Deerfield 5 was used to power the electric at Hoosac Tunnel up into the 1940s)

Our newly found slightly less good shape grade.

Old Retaining wall, still retaining!

The Gate to Bear Swamp Hydroelectric. The grade takes a turn for the worse after this gate. Notice that there are no "no trespassing" signs here. I will proceed!

This fence would be intimidating, what with its clashing color, and triple barbed wire. But wait.. What's this? Its wide open! not only that, but the fence ends 15 feet after the gate!

Here is the fence lurking down towards the river. It had been hit by flood waters in the past and it shows!

What happened to the nice, well groomed grade? This isn't too bad, but it may be if you are allergic to goldenrod!

The first unpatched washout I encountered

You can see across the river the old road. There are jersey barriers along the side because a lot of the side has washed out.

Starting to see more evidence of The hydroelectric power plant!

Another old retaining wall, still holding up rather well.

Our rail grade is still visible, but it is quite muddy here.

This part of the reservoir looks quite neat. it is early in the morning so there isn't a lot of water in there.

That gate on the other side is as far as you can get by car.

Oh no, brush is taking over the increasingly more desolate and ill maintained grade.

Our last visible Retaining wall

The Rail grade is completely destroyed here.

The last visible bit of the grade.

A large rock cut used for gathering rock for the Power plant dam

A stone with a drill hole in it!

You can see Deerfield 5 in the top right, and you can see the release gates for Bear swamp off in the top center.

Deerfield 5

The old HT&W used to be somewhere in there! RIP

Just a random pic of all the rocks in the "dry way" section of the Deerfield river


Go North towards Harriman Station Powerplant

Go South towards Hoosac Tunnel

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