Railroad – Maine to Boston / NBPT to Boston

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6 Responses to Railroad – Maine to Boston / NBPT to Boston

  1. How about some commentary and remembrance of the railroad in Newburyport? Of interest is that there were four rail lines in the city at one time. The main line ran pretty much where it is found today. It was one of two “mains” that ran from Boston to Portland. The one in Newburyport ran parallel to route 1, crossing over Low Street on “Guinea Bridge”. It then passed buy the foundation of the old roundhouse and a small yard area, and then under High Street. A set of crossing gates and signals was quite conspicuous at the crossing at Washington Street. As was the planking between the rails in that street. The station platform began at that crossing and ran quite a distance Northward toward the Merrimack Street rail overpass. I’m old enough to remember rail traffic beyond this point, across the Merrimack. On one occasion long ago, I recall being stopped in my father’s 1949 ford at the crossing gates, facing east, toward downtown. I was maybe two or three years old and was totally enthralled by the sight of several work and flat cars loaded with rail workers come rolling by on the crossing. Then after several cars went by, a very quiet and very old steam locomotive appeared, pushing the work cars ahead of it. The engineer waved at the waiting cars. From that point on, I was hooked on trains. There existed the old and at that time disused Georgetown line that ran from where the current “T” station is at the traffic circle, to Byfield, Georgetown, and eventually linking up with the other “main” line at Bradford. The tracks are still in place on the Bradford end, running behind the Roma restaurant next to the river. A third line was the one that crossed route 1 at grade level. In the late fifties and early sixties, this line ran from the main line, across route 1, and all the way to the Mall. Well almost all the way to the Mall. The rails had apparently crossed Greenleaf Street before my time and there was a station or freight hose where the First National store was located on Pond Street. A fourth line ran from the “main” and curved toward Oak Hill crossing Parker Street at grade. It then proceeded to pass next to March’s Hill and under High Street, Chestnut Street, and Hancock Street. The line then crossed Purchase Street at a crazy angle, and ran down part of Harrison Street before returning to the “right of way”. A grade crossing at Water street brought the rail line to the waterfront. I remember first hearing then seeing B&M diesel locos with a few cars in tow on that line on rare occasions. The rail line followed the bank of the Merrimack passing abandoned relics of days and years past. A collection of abandoned oil storage tanks as well as switches to more than one track were features of this Southend fixture. There was a siding that branched off to the very edge of Water Street to the loading docks of the Swift plant next door to Atkinson Lumber. I still remember refrigerator rail cars sitting just behind the chain-link fence as I past by on the street. The rails eventually crossed behind the old firehouse in Market Square and headed toward a large gate that led into the Diamond Lumber Co. There was a large yard behind the Square years before I was born. It served the Philadelphia & Reading coal docks that were once a prominent feature on the Newburyport waterfront. The only rail left intact present day is what ends at the current “T” facilities. The rails north of there have recently been pulled up as part of a “rails to trails” project that has been lumbering along for some time. In the South end, the old rail line right of way has been shamelessly “encroached” upon by some rather land greedy residents. It seems that the good people of the city of Newburyport, through their tax dollars, have paid for a couple of portions of former B&M railroad land. It was a package deal, being that one section, ( the larger of the two ) is located at Oak Hill. The other is a small triangle of property that got lumped in to the land purchase. The property is located between Harrison Street and the railroad right of way. One “Neighbor” has had the pleasure of actually having fenced this property in, joining said property to theirs, and prohibiting public access to it. The Mayor, doesn’t think there is any problem with a resident actually “seeling” public land from the legitimate “taxpayers” in Newburyport. Oh well, business as usual. “Hizonor” did tell me that there would be no land grabs on his watch… So what happened???

    p. j. nichypor September 24, 2009 at 1:35 am Reply
  2. Some railroad reminders and relics remain in and around Newburyport. It has been a pleasure to see some actual “forward” thinking in the Commonwealth in recent years with regard to restored rail service from the “Yankee City” to points south… Too bad that the taxpayers footed the bill for the under-utilized “Station House” at the current facilities. It would be nice to wait for a train on a freezing cold winter day, “indoors”! The structure has had short term and sporadic openings during the past several years since it was first completed (at cost over-runs ?). It was a small pleasure to be able to have my son get to use the restroom facilities, get a beverage for us, or just to sit inside until “train time”. Now, my son and I are absolutely thrilled with trains and all that goes along with them. But from an early age, even he noticed something wrong with the building being closed, locked, and a haven for pigeons. When he first asked me why the building had failed to stay open and/or occupied, I offered my usual reply, “Because son, this is Massachusetts”… I guess the building has achieved “relic” status through its dis-use. Look closely around the city and its outskirts and you can see a lot of what are genuine relics of a once very busy railroad infrastructure that such due to changing history and not simply due to incompetent politics or an “envelope” passed under some table. Some of what remains in and about us is somewhat subtle and may be overlooked. Other things are so very out in the open, that most of us don’t give them a second thought. Up until about a year ago, the old “main line” rails were still in place north of the current commuter rail station. A collection of switches, communication and signal boxes, as well as some of the original line poles complete with those really cool and sought after “insulators” on the crossbars were also a part of the “right of way”. Most of these things have been dug up and hauled away with the creation of the “rails to trails” walkway going in its place. The pole carrying the old crossing signal “cross-bucks” at Washington St. was also removed recently. I may or may not know the location of part of that very cool looking sign. Additionally, the actual Newburyport train station that burned down in one of the city’s many “fires of suspicious origin” back in those wonderful days in the early and mid 1960’s, had platforms that could be accessed from Washington St.. One such platform exists/existed also quite recently. If you looked closely, the stenciled safety line and warnings were still visible there. More subtle were the overgrown railroad style fences, signal foundations, etc. The more obvious “left-overs” can be seen in the forms of the Merrimack St. overpass, a cut granite retaining wall along part of Winter St. that was part of the old station, and of course, the bridge. I know that this will sound cynical but, I do wonder where all those huge pieces of granite are going in the “Bay State” that have been hauled out of the old bridge approach??? The rail bed and right of way are still in place on the Georgetown line. Stand in the “T” station and look for an embankment and a line of utility poles heading from the station toward the south west. The line was once a major link between the seacoast main line and the more heavily used inland main that runs through Haverhill. Parts of the branch that used to cross route 1 are still there. The short branch used to run from the the main at its current location, cross rte. 1, run behind where the courthouse is now located at the “circle”, and cross Greenleaf St. to yards at Pond St. at the Mall. Not very much of this is identifiable now due to over building in every available space in the city… The other line was the “City Railroad” that ran from the same junction as the other lines. This one ran north east to cross grade at Parker St. at Oak Hill. It then passed under High St. and then beneath two arched, wooden overpasses at Chestnut Nd the at Hancock Streets. The right of way continued north and crossed Purchase St. at grade and ran at an angle along a portion of Harrison St.. You can actually see where the tracks curiously pass “under” someones yard. Hmm, I wonder how that got overlooked by city planning, the highway dept., the TAX assessor’s office??? A somewhat deteriorated stone retaining wall still defines the curve of what was a viaduct that carried the rails along the south end waterfront and then behind the old central fire station in Market Sq. Tracks were in evidence behind the Stb’d Galley up until recently. Those too may be gone… My friends and I had the foresight to take photos of much of the “railroad-ania”( as I refer to it )when it was still in place. I have shared some of those with Geordie Vining at city planning. I have also taken that agency as well as the mayor to task on issues of “encroachment” of city and rail property that we all had access to for years. Seems that a few folks have extended their property lines to include parts of the railroad right of way. This denies access to stretches of this path to the public, who have actually paid for its acquisition though their tax dollars. Speaking of tax dollars, why doesn’t the city wise up and re-assess those enchroached parcels and charge the “enchroacher” for its use. That is of course before legally taking it back and restoring public access to it. Not a bad idea…

    p. j. nichypor September 25, 2009 at 10:59 am Reply
  3. P.J.
    Like to see those photos of the track remnants …( bit of a railnut myself )

    J. Frost October 2, 2009 at 7:06 pm Reply
  4. I have tried to copy the slides I have. I’ve attempted to use a digital imaging camera to copy directly off an Osram Diastar slide viewer. It shows a rear illuminated, bright image of the slide on a 10″x10″ screen. Problem is, the digital image picks up a very dark “vignette” that shades out much of the images… Anybody out there with slide copying capabilities? I’d like to share some of these images. But my technology isn’t up to 21st century standards. I have some real nice slides of the Hancock and Chestnut St. bridges, before and after. One of the last freight locos at Parker St. grade crossing. Rails near Atkinson Lumber, etc. Also some slides of the Greek Church fire. The YMCA before and after the fire. Some town “character” photos… Let me know…

    p. j. nichypor October 14, 2009 at 12:26 pm Reply
  5. There are lots of photos of the Newburyport B&M branch as well as the Amesbury siding available for viewing as well as prints , from the Salisbury Point Railroad Historical Society ( non-profit group ) They are based on Water Street in Amesbury , Ma . Also located there is the location of the old Salisbury Point Station ( formerly behind where McDonalds is on Rte.110 ) The Station has been beautifully preserved and is worth a visit by any railroad or history buff . Their website should list their hours of operation .
    Website : http://salisburypoint.tnsing.com/

    J. Frost March 30, 2010 at 7:18 pm Reply
  6. I worked at the old round house after going there instead of the movies for about 6 months. We kids were so lucky as we were able to go places without the places we went worry about getting sued. I filled the lanterns and helped remove cinders from the ash pit. The engine I rode on over to Amesbury and back was 1380 a Mr sherbun was the engineer. The emotions that place had for me even now. When I got back from overseas and the train came under the High St bridge I had tears. I am home. A heny walsh was the gate tender at Washington st. Tom walsh was the boss at the roundhouse if I remember rightly. I hope to hear from you.

    David Twombly February 27, 2018 at 7:23 pm Reply

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