2 Responses

  1. avatar
    David Pierce at |

    I’m Dave Pierce, founder and director of Friends of the Keystone Arches, Inc. an advocacy group for the bridges you visited. We appreciate the recognition. We are the builders of the trail, a mostly volunteer effort, with lots of help from local school kids and teachers (Gateway Regional District), as well as a couple AmeriCorps sessions.

    The real story here is the lack of recognition for these bridges and the incredible history behind them. Would you be surprised to learn that every major preservation organization (public and private) in MA, has declined their custodianship? This in spite of the fact that they are listed in the National Historic Inventory, The Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress), the 10 Most Endangered Historic Resources in MA list, the 1000 Great Places in MA list, as you suspected, the Best Foliage Spots in MA list, as well as the 2007 Editor’s Choice List of YANKEE magazine. We are presently preparing a nomination for Historic Landmark status, which the National Park Service assures us we have a good chance of winning.

    Would you be surprised to learn that there is a 1.5 million dollar Interstate Transportation Enhancement Act grant from 1996 to repair the bridges, which we have yet to implement as we negotiate endless regulations surrounding the Wild & Scenic Westfield River and are held at bay by CSX Transportation, which controls the only possible vehicle access? (This is the largest roadless wilderness in the state.) Our funding was removed from the TIP list by MA DOT last year, so we are now battling to have it restored in tandem with the previously mentioned obstacles.

    The two abandoned arches are the property of MA Fish and Wildlife by default, but monument preservation is not in their mission statement. In fact, this and another trail we are just starting along Walker Brook in Chester, are the only two formal trails on F&W property in the Western District and both exist only due to the extraordinary historic sites along them, as F&W prefers to leave properties in as natural a state as possible.

    As yet we have been unable to get any of our local legislators to take the time to hike out to see them, though most profess and have offered, support. Sen. Michael Knapik presented a Senate resolution this past May which recognizes the bridges as part of the world’s first mountain railway, as well as the first major American infrastructure project to employ large numbers of immigrant laborers.

    This is a very brief summary of why any publicity is greatly appreciated. That, along with the trail itself, is how we hope to win over a constituency for them; basically we are reaching out to one person at a time.

    I apologize for the litter. Both motorized vehicles and fires are prohibited by F&W. The trail is usually kept up quite well. In fact this spring the local scout troop went out for a clean-up day, and later complained to me that they only filled one garbage bag; so we do try with the limited resources we have available.

    1. avatar
      Josh Lipinski at |

      I also checked this place out a few weeks ago…Wow! I was in complete awe and can’t wait to get back. I’ve scoured almost every inch of western mass – fishing, hiking, running, cycling, you name it – but this place has an undiscovered feel. A little similar to the old trolley line in Conway off Station Road, or the Hoosac tunnel on the Florida side. Standing at the top of the last one (Arch D?), surrounded by the hills, I’m wondering to myself “is this Montana or am I still in western Mass.”? They’re in excellent shape, I did see some remnants of campfires, but otherwise, just so glad they aren’t graffitied up. Walking through that deep dark quarried chasm for a few hundred yards was also a cool experience.


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