Stunning, Historic Stone Bridges are a Top Massachusetts Summer Destination
Western Massachusetts has plenty of outdoor excursions to leave locals and visitors alike in awe of the area's natural beauty. The views are stunning year-round, but perhaps most impressive during the fall foliage season.
One of the most popular areas to explore in western Massachusetts is Berkshire County where an abundance of trails and landmarks not only shine a light on nature's beauty but also have a bounty of history behind them as well.
Take for example the Keystone Arch Bridges in Chester, Massachusetts, a small hilltown in the western part of the state.
The two keystone arch bridges located within MassWildlife's Walnut Hill Wildlife Management Area are designated as National Historic Landmarks by the U.S. Department of Interior
Soaring above the West Branch of the Westfield River, the bridges are an intact segment of the country’s first railroad built to pass over a mountain. The two bridges are part of a series of area stone railroad bridges built for the Western Railroad that ran from Boston to Albany.
According to Friends of the Keystone Bridges, Major George Washington Whistler is credited with the design and implementation of an unprecedented plan to extend the rail through the central Berkshires by spanning the West Branch of the Westfield River in multiple locations. With only 2,500 National Historic Landmarks in the entire country, this prestigious designation recognizes the structures' significant place in United States history.
The West Branch of the Westfield River, a National Wild and Scenic River, is popular among anglers fishing for wild and stocked trout and for experienced kayakers paddling the river rapids.
The group of arched bridges located near and within the remote 900+ acre Walnut Hill WMA can be accessed via the 2.5 mile one way Keystone Arch Bridge Trail in Chester. Visitors can stop by the Western Railroad Museum in Chester to learn more about the national engineering marvel that the bridges represented at the time.