Date Of Visit: June 22, 2017
Location: 115 State St, North Adams, MA
Hours: Mon – Fri 11:00 – 4:00
Sat & Sun 12:00 – 4:00
Parking: There is ample parking in the main parking lot (for about 430 cars) and additional parking can be found farther down the street
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Dog Friendly: No
Highlights: history of the western MA area, historical items
Website: Western Gateway State Heritage Park
Tucked behind the busy streets of North Adams in an otherwise nondescript office building complex stands a museum highlighting the hidden history of the North Adams area. It was truly a hidden surprise. Just be aware if you do visit, you have to walk a short distance into the commercial space area to find the museum. In fact, the museum/visitor center is so hidden that I accidentally walked into some office building in the front of the parking lot. The man working there was understanding and said it “happens all of the time” and he promptly gave us the directions to the museum which he must have memorized backwards and forwards by now.
More of a visitor center than an actual museum (and certainly not a park), the Heritage State Park museum chronicles the history and development of the Hoosac Tunnel, a 4.75 active railroad that runs through the Hoosac Range, a mountainous region of Vermont as well as other historical events of the area.
Much of the visitor center is dedicated to the Hoosac Tunnel which was built 1851 and 1875 (and you thought construction projects took a long time these days). The museum had many. exhibits on display that range from what the area looked like before the construction began to documenting what was involved in the construction of the tunnel. As an fyi, the lighting was very dim and I think they frown upon using your flash. So, some of the photos came out a little dark.
The museum also has some of the tools, equipment and vehicles used to create the tunnel and transport goods.
One hundred and ninety five people were killed during the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel which has added to its lore. The section of the visitor center that deals with the mining history of the area, with its dim lighting adds to this spooky history. There are also examples of rocks that prevalent in the area where the Hoosac Tunnel was built and had to be blasted or removed during the construction of the tunnel.
There is one section pf the visitor center that befuddled me a bit. Apparently, there have been reported UFO and alien sightings in the area. Apparently, Western Massachusetts and the Berkshires are a hot bed for extraterrestrial activity. However, many of the documents and exhibits had to deal with Area 51 in Roswell, New Mexico. I know. My sentiments exactly.
The last section of the visitor center has travel guides, books and exhibits with information about the area.
As I walked to my car from the visitor center, I noticed Prada, a 5 year old Siberian and wolf mix, being walked near the Heritage State Park. She was nice enough to pose for a few photos for me.