Wachusett Dam & Reservoir

The Hard Rock Tunnel

Sections 2 & 3

Brick reinforced tunnel section

Section 2 & 3  

Hard rock tunnel


The first of the contracts for the construction of the two mile long hard rock tunnel was awarded on February 14, 1896 to E.D Smith & Co. with a completion date scheduled for late in 1897.

The work involved coring a 10-12 foot diameter tunnel through hard rock using drill and blast techniques. The location was remote so an independent power system had to be installed, in this case by large air compressors fueled by coal fired steam boilers.

The tunnel ran from the Wachusett Reservoir in Clinton through remote farm country ending at Dover Road in Berlin. The remoteness required erecting temporary on-site living quarters for up to 300 persons.

After nearly two years of steady work the power plant and living spaces were completely removed leaving only a single small access building over one of the shafts to indicate that anything was there at all.

This is the story of the hard rock tunnel construction, the methods used and the manpower required.




Hard rock miners

Self supporting tunnel header

Triple-brick ring reinforcing liner

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