The Canton Viaduct is a railroad viaduct built in 1834-35 in Canton for the Boston and Providence Railroad. At its completion, it was the longest (615 feet) and tallest (70 feet) railroad viaduct in the world; today, it is the last surviving viaduct of its kind. It has been in continuous service for 179 years and now carries high-speed passenger and freight service.
The viaduct was the final link built for the B&P’s then 41-mile mainline between Boston and Providence. Today, the viaduct serves Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
The stonecutters and masons who worked on the viaduct were Scottish Freemasons from local area lodges. In addition to the workmen, the majority of the B&P’s board of directors were Freemasons, including Thomas P. Wales and Joseph W. Revere.
The foundation stone was laid on Sunday, April 20, 1834, with a Masonic Builders’ rites ceremony. Following Masonic tradition, the foundation stone is located at the northeast corner of the structure. The Canton Viaduct cost $93,000 to build, equivalent to $2,126,100 today. Construction took 15 months and eight days from the laying of the foundation stone to the completion of the project on July 28, 1835.
The “Whistler” was the first engine to pass over the entire length of the road. The engine was built by Robert Stephenson in 1833 in England. At that time the trip from Boston to Providence cost $2 one way.
In 1999 Canton Viaduct Park was created. It is located south of the waterfall over the old channel, on land taken via eminent domain by the MBTA in 1997. A monument was built with discarded coping from the 1933 deck renovation project.
The Canton Police Department honors the Canton Viaduct on its uniform patch. The viaduct is the most photographed landmark in Canton, and many local businesses have used its image and name throughout the years.
Blue Hill Lodge in Canton has sponsored a Masonic Memorial at Viaduct Park to honor the Masonic builders. The monument consists of an eight-foot-tall granite obelisk. Beneath this beautiful monument is a time capsule, which will be opened on the viaduct’s 300th anniversary in 2135.
Presently, Blue Hill Lodge has seen fit to install a beautiful brick walkway around the monument consisting of over 1,000 4×8 and 8×8 bricks. These bricks can be ordered to commemorate the life of a loved one and engraved with their name, dates, etc.