East Portal to Central Shaft Excursion

    These pictures are from an excursion that went from the East Portal to the Central Shaft. The pictures were taken roughly from 6:00 - 8:30 PM on a cold late November night.

    The purpose of these pictures is not to tempt you to go into the tunnel, but to educate you on what is in there and where. There are many things that could happen to an explorer who enters the tunnel without the aide of a rail workmen crew, and none of those things are good. There isn't a lot to see inside there anyways and most everything of interest for the eastern most 12800 feet are shown here. The tunnel is train friendly but not people friendly! Please do not trespass!

    Pictures are ordered from east to west except for some of the last few. Numbers on the walls can be referenced to the tunnel map in the maps section. Numbers on the wall symbolize 100 feet starting with 0 at the West Portal and 251 at the East Portal. These can be used to gauge how far you have gone in, or how far you are from a certain object. The vast majority of these pictures were taken on of the north wall.


Signal box, located about 1000 feet in from the portal. I suspect this controls the crossing on River road. Two wires come from this box and touch the rails while making a great deal of electrical buzzing.

Marker 241 near the signal box. Some cement work was done here.

Brick arch, barely visible. This is just before the 231 marker so about 2000 feet in.

231, just after the 60 or so foot arching.

Need a reason to stay out? How about these recently fallen rocks? These can't be more than a few months old because the new continuous weld rail was installed in August.

The first field phone, located 3000 feet from the portal. These phones have little lights that are visible for about 1000 feet. They are easy to mistake for a train. They are further recessed into the wall so they make good hiding spots and apparently, good drinking spots as this photo shows.

Marker 221, and the phone. Notice the light.

Marker 211, there is a notch in the wall here. These notches are called "manholes". As recently as a few decades ago B&M employed a trackwalker to do minor repairs on the rail and to pick up stones and debris from the tracks. On the north side there are notches every hundred yards or so that go in a few feet so the track walker could gain shelter from any oncoming trains.

Some brick arching around 4500 feet from the portal. A sheet of brick has fallen. Notice the color difference, as the rest of the brick is covered in soot.

Signal, and field phone located 5000 feet from the portal. I have no idea what the G signifies. The signal is thoroughly caked in soot and grit.

Another picture of the same thing.

And a third!

Field phone #3. This one is located at marker 191, or 6000 feet from the portal.

Marker 189, I could not find 190 or 191 on the wall, they may be too faded or too caked with soot.

Marker 178 and mile marker 417. Wow 6 miles from Zoar!

Brick arching becomes more common the further west you go. Some hardy graffiti punks got a hold of this section.

Field Phone #4 at marker 161, or 9000 feet from east portal. Noticing a pattern? Independent field phones are placed every 3000 feet, or at a major point (like the signal).

Some electrical equipment, not entirely sure where this was, somewhere near 161, maybe in the high 150s.

Brick arch track walker manhole built into the arch at marker 150.

Another manhole on the same span of brick arching. This section of arching was at least 300 feet long.

This is about when you start hearing the Central Shaft double fans (if they are blowing). They are over 1000 feet west and 1000 feet above you. There is also a light at the Central Shaft visible from here. The fan noise combined with the light might seem like a train.

Very close to Central Shaft now!

The doorway into the famed Hoosac Hotel, located on the North side of the tracks. Unfortunately it has been defaced... many many times. But I guess the defacers earned it by hiking in over 2 miles! Still I think its in poor taste. Despite what people say this room is not directly under the Central Shaft it is offset east by about 60 feet or so, and is directly across from the south vent.

Another view.

View of the vent leading to the Earth's surface. The Central Shaft once went all the way down to the tunnel, however for ventilation and safety purposes the roof of the tunnel was bricked over and 2 vents were cut in at a right angle from the shaft. Each cut spiraled down to the tunnel and came out on opposite sides offset by about 100 feet. The south vent was east of the shaft, The north vent on the west. The vent showed in this picture is the north side vent. This vent is as tall as the tunnel itself.

Somehow debris managed to get down here. I don't know if it was thrown down the shaft or what. I want to say it was dragged in, but judging by the size of some of the junk... I dunno.

Looking west at the Central Shaft. It is dark outside so no pinprick of light is visible.

Marker 123 near the north vent.

The south vent, directly across from the Hoosac Hotel.

Looking at the floor in the hotel. The room is about 10x10x6 feet filled with old equipment, a field phone, and other goodies. There is some sort of electronic in there going BEEP BEEP BEEP which was quite alarming to hear at first. Notice the abundance of bags. The old IRONFIST site referred to them as body bags, however I am not convinced.

The doorway is wood lined. Perhaps there was an actual door here once.

More wood, brick and soot.

Some sort of pipe sticking out. There has to be 1/4 inch of grime on it.

A field phone, table, empty pack of cigarettes, some foam tape and of course as always. Grafitti

Another angle, notice the brickwork on the wall.

A look at the stone that makes up the inside walls. Metamorphic conglomerate!

Remnants from parties of yesterdecade.

124, just east of the hotel! LS must stand for "Lets split".

Notice the holes at the base of the brick arching. These are designed to allow water to seep out. This is in the 150 area.

Another sheet of brick has fallen. There are bricks all over the ground here. All thoroughly covered in soot.


Copyright 2000 - 2005 Marc Howes
Trespassing is illegal and dangerous especially when inside the tunnel with a train! If you go inside and see a light run and hide! that is unless of course its the portal, then you don't have to run nor hide. Trains burn diesel fuel and produce among other things carbon monoxide and deafening amounts of noise! Trains also have people in them and people have eyes used for seeing things.. Like trespassers! Just be careful use your head and stay safe.