The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has announced that the northern section of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is open to the public once again as of 5 pm today (Friday, Oct. 9). The 11-mile section of the trail was temporarily closed June 29th, in order to undergo resurfacing operations.

The Berkshire reports that project’s contractor, J.H. Maxymillian of Pittsfield, will be onsite for the next two weeks to conduct minor cleanup operations. The cost of the project comes in at roughly $3.2 Million.

The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail used to be an old railroad track, and it was converted into the 10-foot-wide trail that we all know and love today. The trail runs nearly 13 miles through the towns northern Berkshire towns of Cheshire, Lanesborough and Adams. Cheshire Reservoir and the Hoosic River are along the trail corridor.

The southern portion of the trail, you may recall was resurfaced and reopened to the public back in June, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trail’s visitor center, restrooms and picnic areas are currently closed.

Here is a brief, but interesting history of the rail corridor before the rail trail, the from…

Built during the industrial boom of the 1800s, the railway proved to be a vital commercial link from the Atlantic Seaboard to communities which would have otherwise been isolated in the Berkshire Hills.

In 1845, the Pittsfield and North Adams Railroad developed this corridor with the goal of extending the Housatonic Railroad north to Rutland, Vermont. While the track was under construction, the company was acquired by the Western Railroad, which later became part of the Boston and Albany Railroad (B&A), as their North Adams Branch. Mineral traffic developed on the line and a number of limestone operations went into business. The New York Central Railroad took over the B&A in 1900, and upgraded the line, which was sold to the Boston and Maine Corporation in 1981. As a connection to an existing track in North Adams, Boston and Maine ran the line with declining success until they abandoned rail service in 1990.

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