Canton Viaduct

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The A west side view of the Canton Viaduct looking south with the former Revere Copper Mill in the background, April 1977.

Canton Viaduct is a blind arcade cavity wall railroad viaduct built in 1834-35 in Canton, Massachusetts, for the Boston and Providence Railroad (B&P). 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 180 years; it now carries high-speed passenger and freight rail service.


  • The Viaduct at Canton, though yet unfinished, is a stupendous work. A view of it, many times repays the trouble of passing around. The excavation and embankments in Canton are also worthy of minute attention; they testify in strong language to man's domination over nature, and his ability to overcome any obstacle to any undertaking that is not morally or physically absurd. The project of cutting through these rocky heights and crossing the valley of the river by the Viaduct was a very bold one. A hesitating mind would have surmounted this by a stationary engine or some less formidable way. But any other would have detracted very much from the facilities which give value to such a road. The road has been constructed under the direction of Major McNeill, and it will stand for ages an enduring monument of the high talents and high attainments of its accomplished engineer.
  • It is a splendid work, which might in the days of yore, have done honor to the enterprize of an emperor.
  • The viaduct or railroad bridge, over one of the ponds and river at this point is conceded to be the most elegant and massive structure of masonry in the United States.
    • Hayward's Gazetteer of 1845
  • The viaduct at Canton, by the way, the bold conception and fine construction of which exited so much admiration in the minds of the excursionists, really was a most creditable piece of work. When they did build, they built better in those days than they now do, and the passage of forty years of constant use has developed no greater need for repairs on the Canton Viaduct that it has on the pyramids of Egypt.
    • Adams, Charles, F. (1878). Railroads: Their Origin And Problems. Ayer Co. Publishing. ISBN 978-0405137648
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