Historic Railroad Arch
Middlefield MA 01243
map | overhead view (Google)
Hike in required.
bridges are difficult to reach. To reach them you must hike in. The
entire journey is about 4 miles, but is surely worth the effort.
a $20.00 donation, The Chester Foundation will provide a guide
to any group desiring to reach these magnificent works. Or they will
provide a map for a self-guided tour.
call (413) 667- 8755 to arrange a trip to the Keystone
The Arches Postcard Series
These postcards are available from the Chester Foundation for $1 each, or $5 for the group with free shipping.
The Keystone Arches draw people from near & far into the wilderness of Chester, Middlefield & Becket, Massachusetts. Built for the railroad in the late 1830s, no mortar was used. All of the huge stones were quarried locally and cut by hand. The Arch pictured here is the second highest which towers 65 feet over the Westfield River.
The colossal 70 foot arch is the largest ever built along the rail trail in the 1840s. Photos cannot do it justice. It must be seen in person for one to appreciate the magnitude of this awesome structure. No longer in use by the railroad, it sits undisturbed in a tangle of plants & trees. Folks who have discovered this arch for the first time often describe the experience as if they had found a pyramid in the jungle!
A train passes over the double arch on a warm October morning. This is the only double arch built along the rail line.
In 1840, the average locomotive weighed in at about 12,000 lbs. Today, the arches are still structurally sound and casually support modern locomotives that weigh in at approximately 412,000 lbs!
Two modern CSX locomotives pass over the majestic doube arch on a sunny afternoon in February, 2005. Built in 1840, this is the only double arch built along the rail line. It was originally the 2nd arch bridge going westward from Chester, however the original "gateway" arch (about 1/2 mile east) was washed away in the flood of 1927 making this the first along the modern rail line today.