Staple Bend Tunnel
Finished in June 1833, the Staple Bend tunnel was advertised as the first railroad tunnel in the United States. Approximately 14,900 cubic yards of bedrock was removed using black powder blasting. This was done by drilling three feet long holes and packing them with powder. Drilling one typical hole took up to three hours of hard effort using a three man crew. Nine to ten holes, each one-inch in diameter and thirty-six inches in length, were made before blasting. One pound of explosive powder wrapped in paper was pushed into each hole, tamped down, punctured with a sharp needle, and a fuse added. Fuses were lit with explosions to occur at mealtime. Workers would eat while the dust settled then get to work cleaning (mucking) the tunnel. Of the 36-inch hole drilled only 18 inches, or half of the hole, was blasted. The tunnel grew about 18 inches each day, with both sides moving toward the center. On December 21, 1832 the workmen broke through the final barrier and connected the two ends of the tunnel. There was much celebration with speeches and toasts. The full tunnel excavation was completed in April 1833.