The East Portal & Vicinity

Ah, the East Portal. Chances are if you have visited the any parts of The Hoosac Tunnel this was it. A popular spot for leaf peepers in the fall, rafters in the spring & summer, and... ice... in the winter!
The East Portal facade. Built in 1877, picture is as it appears October 2005. The light in the tunnel is neither a train, nor is it a ghost, rather it is a boring leaf that was falling to the ground and caught the sun just right. Looks like the ghost of Ringo Kelly remains elusive!
The East Portal is located in the town of Florida Massachusetts at the big bend on the Deerfield river near the Vermont border. It is relatively easy to find seeing that its not really very far from the road. This side of the tunnel proved much easier to work on because unlike the West Portal this side had lots of solid stone that wasn't prone to collapsing. It comes as no surprise then that this side progressed much faster.
The East Portal is also in very close proximity to what is often falsely referred to as the "false start" (it was really a test spot). The "false start" is about 150 feet east of the portal and 40 feet south. It is mostly covered up but you can still sneak into it these days. The "false start" is what remains of the work done by Wilson’s Patented Stone-Cutting Machine. Scroll down further for more interesting images.

The East Portal as it appeared in the early 1870s.
There are lots of interesting things near the East Portal which are out of the scope of this page. Worker housing was in close proximity to the portal, as well as one of the Alignment Towers, and the Compressor building. As you can tell these things have their own page.

The Trestle over the Deerfield river is a very important piece of the East Portal puzzle. It brings the rail line over to the Rowe side (east side) where the Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington railroad went off to the north, and the mainline continued southward to the Hoosac Tunnel station about 1/2 mile away, and further on to all points east.


From the West
Travel MA Route 2, up into the town of Florida, about 1/2 mile east of Whitcomb summit. Take a left, then about 500 feet down that road take a right. You will travel down a very steep grade to the Deerfield river. Turn left and go north for about 1 mile. You can't miss it.

From the East
Travel MA Route 2 through the town of Charlemont. About 2 miles west of the town center before Mohawk park & the bridge over the Deerfield river turn right. This road follows the Deerfield river. Stick to all roads that follow the Deerfield (not like there are a lot of choices) after about 7 miles you will reach the East Portal.

From the North
Travel VT Route 100 to the town of Readsboro VT. In town there is a main road that goes southward, aptly named Tunnel Road. Travel this road following the river for about 10 miles.
The so called "false start" as seen today. Now the hole occupies a brick room with a big rusting tank and a bunch of trash left by uncourteous guests!
Here is a pen and ink drawing of Wilson’s Patented Stone-Cutting Machine, the machine that the original tunnel engineers thought would cut through 4.75 miles of mountain. It only succeeded in making it 1/4000th the way.

Miscellaneous - East Portal

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A view from the hillside. You can see the bridge to Hoosac station/Soapstone siding in the distance.