The "Big Dig" of its day, the Hoosac Tunnel was originally estimated to cost $2 million and take four years to construct. The "Great Bore" as it was known by its critics, would cost $21 million and take 24 years to complete. In 1875, at the time of its completion, the 4.75-mile-long tunnel was the second-longest in the world and the longest tunnel in North America (until 1916). It remains the longest in-use railroad tunnel east of the Rocky Mountains. 

The tunnel also is known as "The Bloody Pit," as 196 people died over 24 years. Most died of from black powder explosions, falls or falling rocks. The worst incident took place on Oct. 17, 1867, when 13 workers died after being trapped in the "central shaft" after an explosion on the surface collapsed part of the vertical shaft. The explosion was the result of a candle igniting fumes from naphtha gas leaking from a nearby gasometer lamp. 

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