NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Have you ever wanted to tour Southview Cemetery by lantern at twilight? Or learn about the history and legends of the Hoosac Tunnel?
On four Saturdays in October you can do both as a passenger aboard the Hoosac Valley Legends Train: The Story of the Hoosac Tunnel.
The special edition train ride will explore the Hoosac Tunnel's history and significance, along with local legends and ghost stories, with the help of North Adams historian Paul Marino and Chris Wondoloski, author of "The Hoosac Tunnel Murders." As a special treat, the train will stop at Southview Cemetery, where Marino will lead a short walking tour.
"Although our tracks do not go through the Hoosac Tunnel, we wanted to tell the history of the tunnel and of North Adams in an entertaining way," Jay R. Green, president of the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum, said in a recent telephone interview. "We had originally wanted to do something with people in costume. We're an all-volunteer organization and it's been a very busy first season [for the Hoosac Valley Train Ride], so we decided we didn't want to do anything too elaborate this year."
But the group still had the desire to offer a special train ride during the month of October.
"The Hoosac Tunnel is such a large part of the rich industrial history of the North Adams and at the same time, its inaccessible by the public." Green said, noting the tunnel is privately owned by Pan Am Railways and part of an active freight rail line. "While we can't take people there, we can give them a deeper dive into story of tunnel, in far greater detail than we can during our regular train rides."
Opened to rail traffic in 1875, the 4.75-mile-long train tunnel took 25 years to complete at a cost of $21 million. It also claimed over 100 lives during its construction.
"There are so many ways to tell the tale of the Hoosac Tunnel — politics, finance and engineering," he said. "Paul Marino will set the stage on the ride to Renfrew [in Adams]. He'll put the tunnel in context, explaining its history and why it's important and talk about some of the personalities that were associated with its construction. We don't know who this will appeal to — tourist or locals — but we'll try to cross that middle ground on the ride back when we stop at Southview Cemetery, where we'll go on a kerosene lantern lit walking tour, led by Paul. He'll take us to some select locations with ties to the tunnel."
In addition to the cemetery stop, the return trip will feature ghost stories and local legends, as told by Wondoloski, a retired teacher who based his fictional murder mystery, "The Hoosac Tunnel Murders," on actual events.
The Hoosac Valley Legends Train: The Story of the Hoosac Tunnel is expected to last two hours and is not recommended for children under the age of 10.
IF YOU GO ...
What: A two-hour train ride between North Adams and Adams, Mass., featuring talks by local historian Paul Marino and author Chris Wondoloski. The train will make a special stop at Southview Cemetery, weather permitting, where riders will depart for a brief lantern-lit walking tour of the cemetery. Passengers should wear appropriate footwear for walking on the uneven surfaces in the cemetery.
When: The Hoosac Valley Legends Train will depart the North Adams Station, at 98 Crowley Ave., at 5:30 p.m. on four Saturdays: Oct. 8, 15, 22 and 29. This train is in addition the regularly scheduled Fall Foliage Excursion Train Rides on Columbus Day and Saturdays and Sundays through the end of the month.
Tickets: $20. Passengers are encouraged to pre-purchase tickets to reserve a seat on this train. Tickets can be purchased online at hoosacvalleytrainride.com/tickets.php or in person, prior to departure, at the North Adams Welcome Coach located at the North Adams Station.