Middlefield-Becket Stone Arch Railroad Bridge District

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Middlefield-Becket Stone Arch Railroad Bridge District
Bridge over West Branch of Westfield River near Middlefield Rd, Chester MA.jpg
Near Middlefield Road in Chester
Middlefield-Becket Stone Arch Railroad Bridge District is located in Massachusetts
Middlefield-Becket Stone Arch Railroad Bridge District
Middlefield-Becket Stone Arch Railroad Bridge District is located in the US
Middlefield-Becket Stone Arch Railroad Bridge District
Nearest city Chester, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°18′45.6″N 72°59′38.3″W / 42.312667°N 72.993972°W / 42.312667; -72.993972Coordinates: 42°18′45.6″N 72°59′38.3″W / 42.312667°N 72.993972°W / 42.312667; -72.993972
Built 1840
Architect George Washington Whistler
NRHP Reference # 80000502[1]
Added to NRHP April 11, 1980

The Middlefield-Becket Stone Arch Railroad Bridge District is a historic district extending through parts of the towns of Chester, Middlefield, and Becket, Massachusetts.[2] The district encompasses a 3.7-mile (6.0 km) stretch of railroad right of way in which there are ten bridge crossings, including nine over the west branch of the Westfield River. The bridges were built in four time periods: 1840, 1866, 1912, and 1928. Nine of the ten bridges are stone or concrete masonry work, and one is a truss girder bridge. All are, with only minor exceptions, in excellent and original condition. The bridges were built to carry the Western Railroad through on its run from the Connecticut River to the Hudson River. This section of railroad was the most expensive the company had to build, costing over $1 million in 1840.[3]

The 1840 bridges were designed by George Washington Whistler, and constructed by the firm of Alexander Birney. Of the original nine stone bridges built, only three survive, all of which are now out of service. Some of the bridges were either demolished or encased in concrete during work performed in 1912 and 1927, and one bridge was demolished in 1927. One of the listed bridges (#4) was built of concrete in 1912, adjacent to one of the 1840 stone bridges (#3) that was taken out of service. The one steel truss bridge was built in 1912 by the Pennsylvania Steel Company.[3] The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.[1] A hiking trail providing viewing points to the lower seven bridges was opened in 2004. All of the bridges are viewable via whitewater-appropriate watercraft from the river.

Bridge list[edit]

Unless otherwise noted, all bridges were in service at the time of the National Register listing (1980), and crossed the West Branch Westfield River.

Bridge #
Image Year built Location Description
1 128.21 MiddlefieldMA KeystoneArchBridgeNumber1 1.jpg 1866 42°18′45.6″N 72°59′38.3″W / 42.312667°N 72.993972°W / 42.312667; -72.993972 Double-span stone arch
2 128.44 MiddlefieldMA KeystoneArchBridgeNumber2 2.jpg 1912 42°18′50.8″N 72°59′52.3″W / 42.314111°N 72.997861°W / 42.314111; -72.997861 Steel deck girder
3 out of service MiddlefieldMA KeystoneArchBridgeNumber3 1.jpg 1840-41 42°18′35.8″N 73°00′10.4″W / 42.309944°N 73.002889°W / 42.309944; -73.002889 Stone arch bridge; taken out of service in 1912
4 129.28 MiddlefieldMA KeystoneArchBridgeNumber4 1.jpg 1913 42°18′35.7″N 73°00′11.4″W / 42.309917°N 73.003167°W / 42.309917; -73.003167 Concrete arch
5 out of service MiddlefieldMA KeystoneArchBridgeNumber5 1.jpg 1840-41 42°18′20.3″N 73°00′19.0″W / 42.305639°N 73.005278°W / 42.305639; -73.005278 Stone arch
6 out of service MiddlefieldMA KeystoneArchBridgeNumber6 2.jpg 1840-41 42°18′31.8″N 73°00′51.3″W / 42.308833°N 73.014250°W / 42.308833; -73.014250 Stone arch
7 130.10 MiddlefieldMA KeystoneArchBridgeNumber7 1.jpg 1912 42°18′33.2″N 73°01′04.8″W / 42.309222°N 73.018000°W / 42.309222; -73.018000 Concrete arch
8 130.46 1866/1912 42°18′36.2″N 73°01′29.7″W / 42.310056°N 73.024917°W / 42.310056; -73.024917 Stone/concrete arch; crosses Factory Brook and Town Hill Road
9 131.50 1928 42°19′05.9″N 73°02′22.7″W / 42.318306°N 73.039639°W / 42.318306; -73.039639 Concrete arch
10 131.70 1928 42°19′11.6″N 73°02′34.6″W / 42.319889°N 73.042944°W / 42.319889; -73.042944 Concrete arch

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Keystone Arches Website
  3. ^ a b "NRHP nomination for Middlefield-Becket Stone Arch Railroad Bridge District". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2013-11-30. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, Jeff L. (January 2014). "Rock Solid: Stone Arch Bridges of the 1840s". Civil Engineering. Reston, VA: American Society of Civil Engineers: 44–47. ISSN 0885-7024. 

External links[edit]