"Woburn Loop" Details In Woburn, 1850-1925

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"Woburn Loop" Details In Woburn, 1850-1925

Postby pgrig » Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:34 pm

I've been lurking on your board after coming here as a result of chasing down abandoned lines, as part of my "benchmark hunting" hobby (looking for those National Geodetic Survey disks which have a way of being located along ROWs).

As a Winchester resident, I'm sorta interested in the Woburn Loop, and saw a couple of threads speculating on its old layout and terminus details.

So the other day I went over to the Woburn Public Library and found a large tome of old maps of the Woburn Loop, showing all its branches, sidings, roundhouses, stations, etc., as they existed about 1850, 1895, and 1925. The problem is that the maps are photocopies of much larger originals, so they're bound together in a way that makes continuity between the pieces difficult to obtain.

My question is, would it be worth the effort for me to try to unscramble these sub-maps into a complete picture of the Woburn Loop's layout within Woburn for these different time periods, or does this information (or complete map) already exist somewhere else? And if I work on this project and eventually succeed, is there a useful place (or format) in which I could put the result?

Thanks!
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Postby Stephen » Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:33 pm

Check out this site, it is a great resource.
http://docs.unh.edu/nhtopos/massachusetts.htm

Specifically, this page has the northern end of the Loop in 1950:
http://docs.unh.edu/MA/wlmg50se.jpg

And this page has the southern end of the Loop in 1950:
http://docs.unh.edu/MA/lext50ne.jpg

- Stephen
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Thanks, Stephen

Postby pgrig » Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:45 am

I had seen the UNH topos before while looking for old benchmarks, but had forgotten them, so your links are really helpful. I will need to go look at them again to try to solidify my image of the abandoned B&L lines.

But regarding the Woburn Loop, the info from the Woburn Public Library maps is much more detailed, and from earlier eras (1850, 1880-95, and 1925 or so. The Loop is shown with literally 100 or so stations, spurs, roundhouses, coal sheds, and branches serving the Horn Pond ice houses, and all the tannery and chemical co. sidings.

But it would be a pain to assemble, probably requiring hand copying onto a modern day street name base map.

Anyone out there interested in this? (inspire me!)
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Postby Leo Sullivan » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:31 pm

The Woburn or Winchester Library probably also has county atlases. I think there is an 1889 Middlesex atlas and several later editions. Usually these have very large scale, quite accurate plans of urban areas, in this case I'd guess
200' to the inch. The rural areas are sometimes shown at a smaller scale.
Railroad track is shown in detail and has proved accurate. Another possibility is the 1915 valuation plans of the B&M RR but, I don't know where you would easily find them.
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Postby eriemike » Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:35 am

I was told that the Library of Congress has all of the 1915-1917 Vaulation Maps for all of the railroads. The Walker Transportation Collection has had a number of B&M Valuation photos given to us over the years, though no maps.

Speaking of the Woburn Loop, I recently saw a couple of photos showing the depot at North Woburn. They looked to have been taken in the late 1800's early 1900's. This was located near School St. There appeared to be a team track on one side of the depot and the two track main line on the other. Which side of the street was the depot located? I am familar with that area, but can't wrap my head around how all that trackage fit in there. Obviously much has been built upon that area since then.
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I Repeat...Anyone Interested...?

Postby pgrig » Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:19 am

...in having map/s of the above-mentioned date/s for the Woburn Loop in Woburn?

I will inquire about the Middlesex Atlas, but the map books I looked at were what the Woburn Reference Librarian pointed me towards. Many of the maps in the collection are old insurance co. maps, which I guess the co's maintained to remind them of the risks in a given area. During this period, Woburn's rail sidings seemed to serve some hellaciously dangerous establishments--I'm no expert, but I recognize some really noxious chemical names.

I doubt I'm headed to the Library of Congress on this particular quest... :wink:
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Re: Thanks, Stephen

Postby cpf354 » Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:52 pm

pgrig wrote:I had seen the UNH topos before while looking for old benchmarks, but had forgotten them, so your links are really helpful. I will need to go look at them again to try to solidify my image of the abandoned B&L lines.

But regarding the Woburn Loop, the info from the Woburn Public Library maps is much more detailed, and from earlier eras (1850, 1880-95, and 1925 or so. The Loop is shown with literally 100 or so stations, spurs, roundhouses, coal sheds, and branches serving the Horn Pond ice houses, and all the tannery and chemical co. sidings.

But it would be a pain to assemble, probably requiring hand copying onto a modern day street name base map.

Anyone out there interested in this? (inspire me!)

By the Loop, do you mean the B&M Branch that ran from Winchester to North Woburn Jct, just south of Wilmington?
Please forgive me, but these numbers sound a bit over the top for just the Woburn Loop. 100 stations? As far as I know, it may have had just 2, Woburn and North Woburn, but I don't have my old B&M ETT's handy. The other facilities mentioned seem to be too many to just cover the Loop. There were no "branches" off the Loop. Perhaps you mean spurs, or delivery sidings? Also, there may have been a roundhouse at Woburn, but my historical knowledge of the Loop goes back to the mid 40's, and the only roundhouse near it would have been at Wilmington, just north of Wilmington on the Wildcat.
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Re: Thanks, Stephen

Postby pgrig » Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:20 pm

By the Loop, do you mean the B&M Branch that ran from Winchester to North Woburn Jct, just south of Wilmington?
Please forgive me, but these numbers sound a bit over the top for just the Woburn Loop. 100 stations? As far as I know, it may have had just 2, Woburn and North Woburn, but I don't have my old B&M ETT's handy. The other facilities mentioned seem to be too many to just cover the Loop. There were no "branches" off the Loop. Perhaps you mean spurs, or delivery sidings? Also, there may have been a roundhouse at Woburn, but my historical knowledge of the Loop goes back to the mid 40's, and the only roundhouse near it would have been at Wilmington, just north of Wilmington on the Wildcat.[/quote]

______________________

Sorry--I'm not a RR expert :wink: .

Yes, I believe your description of the Loop is correct.

I believe I saw about 4 stations indicated in the 1850 or 1895 period.

I guess I did mean "spurs, or delivery sidings", not "branches" (I don't actually know the difference). The Loop seemed to have served at least 30 locations/companies with their own sidings, and some with multiple sidings. These included tanneries, leather processing shops, chemical companies, and manufacturing plants.

There was at least one roundhouse, near the common at the center of Woburn, and numerous coal sheds and train/car barns.

That's what I recall of my 30 min. studying the maps.

But since no one seems interested in my spending the time it would take to produce the map, I won't be continuing this effort. Sorry if I didn't express myself clearly enough to satisfy you, Mr. CPF354. My best regards to all you train folks.
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Postby b&m 1566 » Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:05 pm

Was the Woburn Loop the original alignment for the Boston and Lowell Railroad or has it always been the current alignment the MBTA uses today?
When was the Loop abandoned? I've seen old MBTA maps showing that the southern end of the loop was going to be part of the MBTA system but of course that never happened.
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Postby Ron Newman » Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:06 pm

The southern part of it was part of the MBTA commuter rail system until some time in the 1980s.
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Postby TomNelligan » Mon Feb 25, 2008 8:44 pm

The Woburn Loop was always a branch, not the original B&L mainline. Passenger service over the upper half of the loop from Woburn station to North Woburn Junction was terminated by the B&M in 1959. The lower part from Woburn to Winchester remained active until the MBTA discontinued commuter service in January 1981, and the line was formally abandoned the following year. In its stub-end days the two-mile branch had two stations, Woburn and Cross Street.
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Re: "Woburn Loop" Details In Woburn, 1850-1925

Postby bobshoring » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:38 pm

I guess I am a few years late to this discussion, but I have been enjoying this thread as well as others about the Woburn Loop.

Living in the next town, Stoneham from 1948 to 1960, I have very fond memories of the Woburn Loop. Our family drove through Woburn Center 2 or 3 times a week and I'll never forget that wonderful old station with the clock tower in Woburn. Of course in the early 50's it was not unusual to see steam engines on the loop. But I was used to seeing them on the Stoneham Branch until 1954, going right past our house. That's what sparked my lifelong love of trains.

We often boarded the train to Boston at Woburn Center, and sometimes Winchester. I also remember boarding at the old Winchester depot at street level (before the line was elevated in 1957). In fact one time we boarded at Woburn, we found out we were on one of the last trains to run on the street level in Winchester. The conductor said the first train on the elevated track would be tomorrow (Sunday) at 1 PM. Most of the trains we boarded at Woburn were Budd RDC's, but we also rode on heavyweight coaches pulled by diesels. Back in the mid 1950's there was a ticket agent in Woburn station so we bought our tickets from him and I can still remember sitting in the waiting room in the old station. The trains were always coming from the north, Lowell, I believe. Southbound out of Woburn the stations would be: Cross Street, Winchester, Wedgemere, West Medford and North Station. I can't recall ever going north of Woburn on the loop, but I think there might have been two stations north of Woburn -- North Woburn and Central Square, I think. I always loved watching the old crossing gates across Pleasant Street go down. If memory serves me correct, they were manually operated and I don't recall any flashers. We moved away to Connecticut in Feb 1960, but came back for visits. I remember my disappointment when i noticed the crossing gates north of the station were gone and there were bumpers so no trains could go north of the Woburn Station. I know they stopped using the northern part of the loop in mid 1959. The fifties were great times to be a kid. Everywhere around us there were rail lines -- Stoneham Branch, the line through Reading, Lowell Main line (which we crossed on Montvale Ave), Woburn Loop and the Lexington Branch.

There's much more I could share if anyone is interested.
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Re: "Woburn Loop" Details In Woburn, 1850-1925

Postby Shack » Tue May 30, 2017 5:08 pm

I would love to know more, specifically how the loop crossed through Woburn center. And where it crossed where 95/128 is now...are there any traces of it?
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Re: "Woburn Loop" Details In Woburn, 1850-1925

Postby BostonUrbEx » Wed May 31, 2017 12:58 am

The ROW is fully traceable on Google Maps. It crossed under 128 right here, now a part of a rotary: https://www.google.com/maps/@42.4993589 ... 312!8i6656
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Re: "Woburn Loop" Details In Woburn, 1850-1925

Postby Leo Sullivan » Wed May 31, 2017 4:23 pm

Check out the "Massachusetts State Library Real Estate Atlas Digitization Project"
Plenty of coverage
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