Description - A former railroad yard, this urban park uses historical artifacts and exhibits to bring to life the controversial and danger-filled construction of the Hoosac Tunnel, one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century. The tunnel was dug 4.75 miles through Hoosac Mountain, linking Massachusetts to Albany, NY. 200 men lost their lives building the tunnel, which is still being used today. An audio-visual presentation takes visitors back in time, where the sounds of dripping water, pickaxes against stone, explosions, and debates re-create the hardships and heroism of the tunnel's construction.
- Several beautifully restored buildings that were once used to store freight and commodities surround a cobblestone courtyard. The buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Programs and exhibits in history, science, culture and environmental education are offered regularly to the public. The heart of the park is the Visitors Museum. Imaginative exhibits are designed to reveal the impact that the railroad industry and the Hoosac Tunnel project had on both northern Berkshire County and America. Children and adults can experiment with a vintage floor scale that was used for weighing loads up to half a ton. A 30-minute documentary film provides a history of the Hoosac Tunnel. Allow approximately one hour to view the exhibits.
Recreation - Visitors to Western Gateway Heritage State Park can enjoy picnicking as well as the Visitors Center at this historic site.
Climate - Massachusetts experiences four distinct seasons with slightly varying temperatures in the inland and coastal regions. Along the coast the water is a moderating factor that often prevents large amounts of snowfall from accumulating through the winter. Summer temperatures are usually cooler than low lying inland areas, due to ocean breezes. This region of the country experiences high humidity in the summer season and temperatures that average close to 80 degrees F. Fall and Spring are pleasant times to visit the region with crisp air and low humidity. Brilliant foliage colors can be found in the central and western regions of the state in late September and October. Winter temperatures can be brutally cold on occasion with a humidity-filled wind, but on average winter daytime temperatures reach 35 degrees F and lows reach into the teens. Spring is usually the wettest time of year, but trees, bushes and flowers are blooming by early May.
Western Gateway Heritage State Park is located in the northern part of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. From the East: West on Rte. 2 to North Adams to Rte. 8 south. Take a right after the Hadley Overpass into the parking lot.
From the West: East on Rte. 2 to downtown North Adams to Rte. 8 south. Take a right after the Hadley Overpass into the parking lot.