West Shaft

Pen and ink drawing of the elevator building at the West Shaft.

This is a picture of the number four shaft also known Hockin’s Well. Its’ principle use was for the drainage of the tunnel but also for the access of men and materials to the work area below. After the breakthrough of the adit at the west end, the water was allowed to flow by gravity through the Haupt Tunnel and on to the Hoosic River.

This is a picture of the hole at West Shaft today. When it was dug it was 318 feet deep but now it is partially filled in.

When the west end tunneling commenced, the men had a terrible time with the rock. As soon as a shovel of dirt was removed more earth moved in to take its place. The water in the tunnel at the west end was also a major problem. Large pumps were used but they often became overwhelmed. It was thought that if the workers could get to hard rock deeper inside the mountain that they might work back out to the west side and drain more water. This plan would also give the tunnelers two more faces to advance from.

The digging and water proved to be quite a problem so there were four other shafts dug to help with the progress. They were called Hockin’s Well, Baby Shaft, Brick Shaft and the Supplementary Shaft. These shafts have all been filled in.

When completed, 7,573 feet of brick lining was used to hold back the crumbling earth.

This is a view of the miners descending the West Shaft. Note the bucket that the man is standing in. There are three men standing on the rim of the bucket getting ready for the 318 foot trip down to the bottom of the shaft.The huge pile of blasted rock that was removed through the West Shaft can still be seen from West Shaft Road in North Adams.

For an interesting story written by a man that made the trip, please see the West Shaft Story page.

This is a view of the Supplementary Shaft. This shaft is located just 264 feet to the west of the West Shaft. It was 277 feet deep and was used to pump the troublesome water during construction. The 100 horsepower steam driven pump was capable of lifting 1000 gallons of water a minute to the surface.

Hockin’s Well or Auxiliary Shaft was located 685 feet further west and was 215 feet deep.