Historic & Trails Restoration

Among the outstanding features of the Wild & Scenic Westfield River are historic structures along the river, from 18th- and 19th-century road foundations and bridge abutments, to long-gone mills and present-day historic towns.  We undertake projects to restore particularly noteworthy historic structures.

Also central to our mission is keeping trails in good shape in support of recreation and enjoyment of the river.  

Current historic and trail projects include:

Keystone Arch Bridges

While the West Branch of the Westfield River is the only one without a dam, that is not to say there are no grand earth and stone structures. Indeed, in terms of structure, the West Branch “rules.” Along its length sit the first cluster of 10 keystone arch railroad bridges built in America. They are wholly dry laid (without mortar), range in height to 70 feet and made possible the first mountain railroad in the world, the Western Railroad, from Boston to Albany. The railway and the bridges were completed in 1840. Visit their site.

Following the West Branch gave the railroad builders the lowest altitude crossing of the Berkshire Range (1459 ft.) The serpentine course of the river made constant bridging necessary. Stonemason Alexander Birnie of Stockbridge was brought in to construct 27 bridges, culverts and walls in the mountain section of the line.

To help preserve these historic bridges, the Committee:
Provided $35,000 in funds to support the National Historic Landmarks (NHL) designation which was achieved on March 1, 2021 through the dedicated work of the Friends of the Keystone Arch Bridges and partners.