View Full Version : Stone arch bridges in Chester-Middlefield Mass.

06-13-2005, 04:53 AM
I've heard a rumor that there was some stabilization work going on at the old stone bridges on the abandoned B&A line in Chester and Middlefield. Our Scout troop took a hike into there on Saturday, and didn't see anything being done. Does anyone have any info on possible work being done there?

About 10 yrs.ago, there was some funding around for stabilization work, through the PVTA. I attended a couple of meetings, but nothing other than some trail work to access the area became of it. It pains me to see the rather large trees that are growing into the rock abuttments, and that's where most of the damage is being done. The 3rd bridge down (heading east from Bancroft) is in the worst shape. Some of the foundation blocks have been knocked out and it looks pretty precarious. I'm afraid there's not alot of hope for that bridge, given that it's 30 ft away from an active CSX bridge, putting it in CSX's right-of-way. CSX has absolutely no interest in preserving this piece of history, nor will they allow legal access for repairs to proceed.

If you've never seen these bridges, they were built between 1839 and 1841 on the west branch of the Westfield River. There were origionally 8 bridges, all made of handcut stone. As a matter of fact, CSX still uses 4 of them on their present route. The 3 abandoned bridges are about 90 ft. high and have stone abuttment walls that are hundredes of feet long. They will literally take your breath away with the size of them. Ten years ago, the origional scope of the work was to remove all of the trees from the walls, replace any washed out rocks from the base of the bridges, and to even get a crane in there to hoist the edging stones back up to the top.

To access the bridges, you can come in from the little hamlet of Bancroft, which is part of Becket, and head east along the RR tracks. Or come in from the Middlefield Rd. in Chester and head west. It's about 8 miles round trip. Beautiful country with gorgeous views of the river.

If anyone has heard of any efforts to save these bridges, let me know. I really would like to get involved again. Those bridges have stood there for over 160 years, and I would hate to see them destroyed through neglect. Thanks! Tom

06-13-2005, 09:11 AM
They really are beautiful and they're practically hidden with no official access. That's where I saw the bunny that attacked me!

06-15-2005, 07:15 AM
All right JJ, lets hear the details of that one!

06-15-2005, 07:20 AM
At the Masss Border, right at the sign actually, coming South on 93, if you look into the woods (carefully), you can see a double arched bridge (ca 1835 I think). They are in pretty good shape and in recent years have had some large trees removed from them. They may be more commonplace in NE but being from NY, I though it was a fairly cool find.


06-15-2005, 10:58 AM
I found a road off Middlefield Road that goes down a steep drop to a construction company's yard. We parked near the dirt road that leads toward the river, just before entering the company's lot. I walked down the river under the nearest bridge. Then we were looking for a path up the embankment so we could walk along the tracks and see all the bridges.
All of a sudden, a very large rabbit started making noises at me from about 30 yards away and was poised in a striking position. He was protecting a nest of smaller rabbits. I started laughing and the bunny took several fast steps toward me and got back in the position to lunge again.
Now, we were thinking, this guy is serious and he took a longer short run at me and I backed up some more. It seemed stupid to be backing down from a rabbit but I realized I didn't want to get bit or scratched by a possibly rabid animal so we left.
Everyone laughed when Jimmy Carter said he got attacked by a rabbit but then it happened to me! So, go ahead and laugh but I got chased away by a rabbit.
So, in my woods experiences, I've yelled at bears and ran from rabbits.