Hoosac Tunnel

Work began in 1848 on the Hoosac Tunnel, a.k.a. "Bloody Pit" in Massachusetts and wasn't completed until 1877. The tunnel was located at Hoosac Mountain which interestingly in the Mohawk language means "forbidden". More than 200 men died from explosions, fires, tunnel collapses and once by the hand of another worker. But the murder which occurred in 1865, is what gave the tunnel it's reputation.

That year, the construction crew at Hoosac Tunnel was the first to use the new explosive nitroglycerin. Three explosive experts by the names of Ned Brinkman, Billy Nash and Ringo Kelley used the nitro to continue their work on March 20, 1865. After placing a charge, they ran back to the bunker that would shield them from the blast effects but unfortunately, Brinkman and Nash never made it. Kelley set off the charge early, burying the two men alive under tons of rock.

The authorities began to believe that the "accident" wasn't an accident at all when Kelley vanished soon after the incident. He wasn't seen again until almost a year later when his body was found two miles inside of the tunnel, almost the exact spot where Brickman and Nash had been killed. The authorities came to the conclusion that he had been strangled between around midnight and 3:30 am that morning. There was a thorough investigation but no suspects were found and the case went unsolved.

Many of the construction workers believed that Ringo Kelley was killed by the vengeful spirits of Brickman and Nash. They felt it was cursed and some refused to enter it again. There were even workers that left the job site and never returned. They felt it was best to avoid it which slowed down the construction of the tunnel.

In 1868, a mechanical engineer named Paul Travers was asked to examine the tunnel after receiving a letter from Mr. Dunn of the construction company. The workers were complaining of "hearing a man's voice cry out in agony" which prompted them to not enter the tunnel after sundown. Dunn asked Travers to come investigate after trying endlessly to reassure the workers that it was nothing but the wind.

Dunn and Travers went in the tunnel on September 8th at around 9:00 pm. Travers would never forget his experience there. As they listened in to the dead silence, they both indeed heard something that did sound like a man crying out in pain, but no one was in the tunnel with them. Travers being a former military officer had heard that sounds quite often during the Civil War. The worse was yet to come.

On October 17th, an explosion blew apart the water pumping station. Thirteen miners died when the debris filled the tunnel. A miner named Mallery was put into a bucket and lowered into the shaft to search for any survivors. He was brought back up a few minutes later nearly unconscious from the fumes. It was said he managed to tell the rescue team "no hope..."

The 538-ft shaft began filling with water without the pumping station. Some of the bodies of the construction crew surfaced. The rest were found more than a year later. Villagers began telling strange tells of vague shapes appearing near the water-filled pit. Workers claimed to see the missing workmen with shovels and picks appear briefly through mist and snow and disappear leaving no trace behind.

After the bodies of the missing workmen were found and given a proper burial, the bizarre appearances stop. However, the eerie moans did not. Dr. Clifford J. Owen accompanied by James R. McKinstrey came to the tunnel on the night of June 25. No one knows for sure as to the reason but some believe it was because of the spirits.

They traveled about two miles with dim lamps. While resting, the two men talked for a few minutes when they heard a strange mournful sound like someone was in pain. Then, they began to see a dim light traveling westerly. They thought it may just be a worker with a lantern walking in the tunnel but as the light grew closer it began to take shape into a headless man. The apparition moved close to them and then remain motionlessly. It hovered off to the east end and vanished. Owens, being a realist, couldn't deny what he and McKinstrey had witnessed.

Many more incidents similar to Owens and McKinstrey occurred associated with the tunnel before and after it was open for trains. To learn more of the ghostly tale of this tunnel go to: http://www.prairieghosts.com/hoosac.html.

*Taylor, Troy (2001). Ghosts of the Bloody Pit: Hauntings at Massachusetts's Hoosac Tunnel. Retrieved on November 27, 2005 from the Prairie Ghost website: http://www.prairieghosts.com.


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