About Hoosac Valley Train Service
Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum’s new Hoosac Valley Service offers fun and educational train rides between North Adams and Adams in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. This new seasonal passenger train service is a collaborative project between BSRM, City of North Adams, Town of Adams, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Hoosac Valley Service is a community and economic development project designed to provide an attractive seasonal tourist transportation link between downtown Adams and North Adams, connecting with the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Adams. A living history exhibit, Hoosac Valley Service will offer fun, entertaining, and educational train rides exploring the rich railroad history of the region and complement the already popular cultural attractions located in the Northern Berkshire area.
This 1959 photo shows the original North Adams Union Station that served the
Boston & Maine and New York Central Railroads. It was torn down in the 1960s.
Photo by Dick Hover
The new Hoosac Valley Service operates over a portion of the former North Adams Branch of the New York Central (NYC) railroad, which was a connection to its Boston & Albany line in Pittsfield. The branch connected the communities of North Adams, Adams, Cheshire and Lanesborough. As the Berkshires developed into a popular vacation destination, direct through service to New York's Grand Central Terminal via Pittsfield was offered through the 1940s.
The Boston & Maine freight yard at North Adams is now home to
the Western Gateway Heritage State Park.
Regular passenger service ended on the branch in 1954, and NYC successors Penn Central and Conrail operated the line for freight use until it was sold to the Boston & Maine (B&M) railroad in 1981. By 1990, the majority of freight business had disappeared and 12 miles of the route from Lanesborough to Adams was sold to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for development as the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. The remaining four miles between Renfrew, Adams, and North Adams was retained by B&M successor Pan Am Railways to connect with their main line route to Boston.
Putting the track back
Between 2014 and 2016, the Adams Branch will see new life with one mile of track restored between Renfrew and the Adams Visitors Center where the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail begins. A portion of the route will be shared with the rail trail utilizing a joint-use corridor concept to maximize recreational use. The existing tracks between North Adams and Renfrew will be rehabilitated to support freight service for existing local shippers as well as our seasonal tourist passenger service. Passing sidings, storage tracks and other infrastructure will also be constructed and ownership of the right-of-way will be transferred to the Commonwealth.
Future railroad stop and rail trail extension at Adams.
Conceptual planning and feasibility studies for our new Hoosac Valley Service began in 2012 with a determination the route could support both the restoration of trackage and the planned extension of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. Permission to restore track was also obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owned the original one-mile right of way that was needed to reach downtown Adams. Pan Am Railways also offered its support of the project.
Proposed new North Adams Station and History Museum.
In 2013 a formal announcement that train rides were coming to Northern Berkshire was made and substantial engineering and design work was underway by MassDOT and its contractors. BSRM began designing the operational models and the Town of Adams and City of North Adams began integrating the Hoosac Valley Service into their community and economic development plans. By the end of 2013, the Town of Adams had announced plans and secured a grant to build a new station complex at its end of the line and the City of North Adams announced it was exploring the concept of a pedestrian tunnel under the Pan Am Railways main line linking the North Adams end of the rail line to the Heritage State Park and Greylock Market complex. The City also announced that private development group The Partnership for North Adams was developing a concept for a local history and railroad museum to be built in a replica of North Adams Union Station.
This exciting project proves trains still play an important role in 21st century community development.
BSRM IS BACK ON TRACK!