After years of being envisioned, work on the Hoosac Tunnel finally began in 1852. By 1873 with 193 deaths tallied, the tunnel was realized. This was a major accomplishment of the times and was the longest tunnel of the day at 4 ¾ miles long. Many attribute the success of this great engineering venture to three factors: the diligent work of the W & F Shanly & Company contractors who revived the project in 1868, the use of pneumatic drills (Burleigh Drill), and a safer nitroglycerin along with electric blasting caps (new explosive Tri-Nitro-Glycerin invented by George M. Mowbray). The project was sought after by Industrialists of the day, Alvah Crocker a paper manufacturer in Fitchburg, being the most ardent proponent. There was a long list of Engineers tasked with the design, many experiencing failure before the final success was achieved.
Many of the deaths were the result of cave-ins experienced, air shafts accidents, explosions and more. The most devastating was the collapse after an explosion in the center shaft on October 17, 1867. The frame work above the center air shaft caught fire and collapsed into the shaft, causing an explosion from the built up fumes, and filling the shaft with water. Thirteen workers were trapped and drowned, if not already killed from the fire. Their bodies were not fully recovered until a year later. This brought much speculation about the ‘Bloody Pit’ and slowed the progress of the project.
Among the long list of victims claimed by the ‘Bloody Pit’ were three men who worked together as a team using nitro to blast the monstrous black rock. The name Ringo Kelly was never mentioned in the official recorded history of the Hoosac Tunnel. But in 1865 a blast happened and two of the team ended up buried in rock. The local gossip claimed Ringo Kelly ignited the blast early, before the others could reach the safety barrier. Ringo Kelly went missing for a year and a half. Then he was found murdered in the tunnel. Now he is mentioned in bizarre folklore surrounding his murder. Riddled by rumors only, he supposedly was haunted in 1866 by his two friends, his victims, and killed in vengeance…
The official cause of death for Ringo was strangulation. Still rumors claimed he was chased down by the vengeful ghosts. He was found dead in almost the same spot his two coworkers were killed. What really happened to Ringo Kelly?
Now 146 years later no one knows the real story. Did he 'accidentally on purpose' kill his friends Ned Brinkman and Billy Nash? The rumors claim he intentionally set the charge early. What was the motivation for Ringo to end his friend’s lives? There is no explanation offered. We do know that it was the first time nitro was being used on a major project of this scope. Nitro is very unstable, and most likely the entire episode was a mere accident.
Unfortunately for Ringo Kelly, the ghosts of Ned and Billy didn't understand. A year later they found poor Ringo Kelly dead. What is the real story? Does anyone really know what happened?
Here is one theory about this unfortunate happening. Could this be the real story and reason behind it all….
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If you are interested in more information about the Hoosac Tunnel, its history and folklore of hauntings, please go to these sites attached to this post, and/or watch the film documentaries on the Hoosac Tunnel.
LINKS to more information:
Hoosac Tunnel - Engineering Program Audio This is a great audio