Compressor Building, Sluiceway, Gate & Deerfield Dam

The Compressor Building and all its "accessories" near the East Portal is a very interesting place to visit. The purpose of this building was primarily to provide compressed air to the Burleigh Drills at the tunnel heading.

Compressor Building

A series of 4 compressors each mounted at the base of the building dropped below floor level to a turbine. These turbines were spun by water that traveled down a sluiceway (canal) from behind a dam about a mile upstream Deerfield River. The compressed air was piped into the tunnel bore by a pair of 8 inch cast iron pipes at 65 PSI then connected by rubber tubes to the drills. At times when the water level was too low to reliably run the compressor turbines, steam power was employed to supplement the lack of waterpower.

This building was a stone building, three stories in height, most likely made from spoilage from the tunnel bore. The first floor housed the compressors, and the remaining floors were used for repairing tools. The structure rested water side just north of what is presently the iron and wood rail trestle over the Deerfield River. It can be clearly seen from the rail trestle year round. Over the last 60 years the building has continued to crumble to its present state, some photographs below will demonstrate this. Portions of wooden beams can still be seen in the remains of the compressor holes which still to this day backfill with water when the water level is too high.

The Compressor Building was not built until 14 years after tunneling commenced. The air powered Burleigh Drill, invented in 1865 created the need for compressed air. There was an abundance of water power potential near the East Portal which created great opportunity for the tunnel engineers. Thomas Doane ordered the construction of the water powered compressor building to run these new drills.

A map showing the location of the building ruins, and the sluiceway/dam:

Historical Compressor Building Pictures

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Contemporary Compressor Building Pictures

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The sluiceway was what carried the water held back by the dam to the Compressor Building. Most of it is still very traceable today, but all of it is on private property! This sluiceway is hand dug and stretches for about a mile.

Contemporary Sluiceway Pictures

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Contemporary Sluiceway  Gate Pictures

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Deerfield Dam

The Deerfield River Dam located right next to the sluiceway gate was a wood and rock crib dam consisting of wooden cells filled with tightly packed crushed rock. Amazingly timbers from this dam are still visible when the water is low and clear. When the gate was open water that had built up behind the dam was allowed to flow down the sluiceway to its final destination at the Compressor Building where it ultimately powered the compressor turbines which powered the Burleigh Drills at the heading.

Historical Deerfield Dam Pictures

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Contemporary Deerfield Dam Pictures

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