Thousands of workers were employed during the construction of the largest hand-dug dam in history, which is still considered to be a remarkable feat of engineering. Businesses, homes and churches needed to be moved when the valley was flooded, as well as the 4,000 bodies in the local cemetery. A new railroad trestle and tunnel needed to be built to accommodate the relocation of the Central Massachusetts Railroad line.
Completed in 1903, the tunnel stretches 1110 feet through the granite of Wilson Hill. At the time of construction, it was the second longest tunnel in the state. The steel trestle was 917 feet long and stretched over Route 70 and the dam, just to the west of the tunnel. This section of rail saw its last train in 1958. The trestle was demolished in the mid 1970’s – the concrete footings are all that remain now. The track within the tunnel has also been removed.
But the tunnel itself remains, now a favorite of urban explorers and local teens alike. Located a short walk up the hill from Route 70, the tunnel is a well-traveled tourist spot that presents a myriad of photo opportunities . . . and opportunities for a more “guerrilla” sort of art.
Though the graffiti is abundant by the entrance, it seems to grow sparse well before the smooth finish of the west portal gives way to the craggy, unfinished granite of the center and eastern stretch. It’s almost like the artists didn’t want to go any further in. Could there be any truth to the haunting stories?
When I first heard tell of the abandoned tunnel in Clinton, I read of the strange feelings that people would have when inside the tunnel, the sensation of being followed or watched, the cold spots, the strange noises, the feeling of making no progress when walking through – as much as one walked the end never seemed to get any closer. I chalked these things up to the usual Shadowlands exaggerations, and we started our journey armed with both open minds and the scientific method.
Our observations are these: Though the tunnel was indeed about 10 degrees colder than the ambient air outside, we likened it to opening your basement door during the summer and being greeted with a cool breeze. There weren’t cold spots so much as a consistent cool flow of air throughout. As for the noises, we heard both pigeons and a constant dripping noise from the moisture seeping through the rocks; these sounds were amplified by the echo-chamber qualities of the tunnel itself. In regards to the the reported feelings that the tunnel seemed to go on forever, I thought personally that it felt just like the approximate quarter-mile that it actually is, but I can see where one’s eyes might tend to play tricks: both the principle of foreshortening and the fact that you can see the literal light at the end of the tunnel at all times make the distance to the end seem shorter than it is.
In summary, at no point did I personally feel anything frightening or menacing in the tunnel (other than the mold clinging to the roof above our heads. Eeew!). We experienced nothing paranormal while at the tunnel, it was actually quite a peaceful and pleasant experience. Our various equipment registered no quantifiable anomalies, other than a haze in two of our photographs, included below.
As a final note, I’ve come to no definite conclusions regarding these photos. We were using a digital camera with flash in a somewhat damp and possibly dusty environment with little to no natural illumination. I welcome our dear readers to leave any opinions regarding these photographs in the comments section.
And if any of you find yourselves in Clinton, definitely make a point to check this spot out for yourselves.