While driving thru an area in Berlin/Clinton I noticed what appeared to an old ROW. IF you are driving from Hudson to Clinton on Rte. 62 you cross over the Agricultural Line on it's way to Clinton, but instead of going across the intersection following Rte. 62 take a right. It's on your left side perhaps a mile or more down the road. It appears to follow just off the road for a moderate distance and then I lost sight of it. I've checked the USGS maps and others that I can find, but can not determine if it was an actual ROW or perhaps part of a levee system. Any ideas on this find??
That's probably the RoW of the B&M's Central Mass branch that ran from Waltham west to Northampton, MA. Check the "Last run on the Central Mass Branch" discussion in the B&M/MEC links (also check Robert Willoughby Jones' excellent B&M book for details):
In the discussion that johnpbarlow cites, one of the respondents asks about whether the train he saw in Hudson in the 1970's had come there over the Marlboro Branch or over the Central Mass. According to Ronald Dale Karr's Lost Railroads of New England, the stretch of the Marlboro Branch from Maynard to Hudson saw its last passenger train in 1932 and was abandoned in 1943. Therefore, the train he saw (if westbound) must have come from Boston over the Central Mass.
At some point, a shoofly was built just east of where the CM crossed over the Marlboro Branch, allowing trains arriving from Boston over the CM to proceed westward to Berlin over the CM or westward to Marlboro over the remaining section of the Marlboro Branch. When the Maynard to Hudson line was abandoned, the bridge used by the CM to cross that line (and a trolley line) was removed and replaced with a fill. That fill was recently removed as part of the Assabet River Rail Trail project, and the footings for the original CM bridge are now revealed.
p.s. I realize that johnbarlow is a common name, but I'm wondering whether johnpbarlow is the same person I met on the Moose River Bow Trip in Maine some years ago.
I think there might be some confusion on the location of the ROW of which I am referring to. I know about the Mass Central ROW, which from what I've seen follows Rte 62 towards Clinton, old bridge abuttments can be seen on some of the side streets off Rte 62. The potential ROW that I am talking about does not follow Rte 62, it follows the road that the old Berlin train station is on.
This is still the Central Massachusetts branch. Originally the right of way went straight west over the Agricultural branch through Boylston and West Boyleston to Ordway where is crossed the Worcester Nashua and Portland (today's Worcester to Ayer branch) and then up to Rutland and on to Northampton. In the late 1890's the Metropolitan District Commission built the Wachusett Reservoir which swallowed this right of way. So, the government reconstructed the Central Massachusetts right of way by turning north just beyond the bridge over the Agricultural Branch and running into Clinton by a quarter mile tunnel and massive trestle over the Nashua River in front of the Wachusett Dam. The right of way rejoins the road you speak of about a mile north of where the Central Massachusetts crossed the Agricultural Branch and proceeds along the left of the road until it turns further left for the tunnel. There is a newer church built on this right of way. The fill where is turns to parallel the Clinton Road is pretty massive.
Parts of the right of way can be seen from I-495 and Route 117. The right of way goes through Camp Resolute, the Boy Scout camp off Route 85 and certainly looks like an old trolley right of way because it was so lightly built and never improved. In fact, the staff at the camp thought it was a trolley line back around 1960. It was abandoned before topo maps and so began to disintegrate before the maps were created. None of it became a road, so it is long gone.
Go to the site and look at the 1943 topo map of southwest Hudson (at the above address.) The Lancaster Railroad started north from Hudson and crossed Bruce's Pond just north of the Central Massachusetts right of way. You can then see a cut and fill just to the west of Lincoln Road (route 85.) There are greater remains marked at Camp Resolute, but some of the right of way has now been covered by I-495, which of course is not on this map. [I-495 lies to the west of Camp Resolute and to the east of Bolton center.] The right of way then proceeded to the left of the road at the point marked 397 and crossed Route 117 in front of today's Roman Catholic church and continued across Nourse Street and on towards Lancaster along the brook. I can't trace the row once it crosses Nourse Street. Although you might get permission from the Boy Scouts to walk at Camp Resolute, I think all the rest of the row is on private property.
It seems the right of way crossed north of Route 117 just west of Bolton center in front of today's RC church and after about one half of a mile crossed back to the south and followed a grade beyond Wilder Road in Bolton and Lancaster and then west into South Lancaster. The cut and fill is clearly marked on the map. This route would avoid the steep hills that today's Route 117 uses to get down to the Nashua River valley. The right of way seems to follow through today's state school for troubled young ladies and then to the WN&P. The Lancaster was built in 1870-71 and ran seven miles between Hudson and Lancaster and really served only Bolton. The line ran one train to see if the tracks worked and then shut down. Given that the Central Massachusetts did not begin service into Hudson until 1881, the Lancaster had some reason for being built [the Fitchburg's Marboro branch got to Hudson about 1855.] But, no money, no business, no future. The Lancaster is a very early ghost line.
Two questions about the Central Mass. in West Berlin: (1) Can the original ROW be traced between he crossover with the NH Aggie Branch to the reservoir? I assume it must roughly parallel Route 62 from the crossover bridge abutments westward. (On which side of 62?)
(2) I remember when the Central Mass. was still operating into Clinton, though I was pretty young --- I was 8 when it was abandoned. I have a vague, and perhaps totally erroneous, recollection of a stone or concrete arch underpass in the vicinity of the crossover. It could have been on some back road. Does anyone know of such a bridge, or am I all wet? (I also remember a CM overpass on Route 110, near the present site of the Clinton high school. When I mentioned it in the old B&M forum several years ago, several people said I was wrong, until a local Clinton-area railfan logged in and said there was indeed an overpass, as well as an underpass. The CM had a wye in that area, and both legs crossed the highway. So sometimes those childhood memories are more accurate than one would think!)
I was in Clinton two weeks ago and the southern leg of the wye is in pretty good shape, but the northern leg is obscured, probably due to the expansion of the high school.
Was the arch you remember on an active line back in 1958? I've never tried to trace the line due west from the crossover, but some remnants are on the topo maps. Should still be there. I'll look when I get a chance.