Most futile railroads in New England

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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby number7 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:35 pm

One of the reasons for the creation of so many branches was as a way of a third party company making money by building a "threat railroad" that either the B&M or B&L or Eastern would have to buy to avoid it falling into the hands of it's competitor.

Interesting lines that may fall into that category include the "New and Middle Route" that ran from Newburyport to Boston via Wakefield.
This broke the monopoly on passenger service from Newburyport that the Eastern RR enjoyed.


The Essex RR ran from N. Andover MA to Salem MA via N. Andover, Middleton, Danvers, Peabody.
The Essex when combined with trackage rights in Lawrence and the Manchester and Lawrence provided a way of getting coal from Salem MA up to Manchester and beyond.

Another interesting line was the Lowell and Lawrence. It ran from just over the river in N. Lawrence to Lowell via Andover and Tewksbury. When combined with the Salem and Lowell and the Boston and Lowell it provided a way to get from Lawrence to Boston via Andover, Tewksbury, Wilmington Jct, then the B&L line to Boston.

The Salem and Lowell is interesting in that it never made it to Salem or Lowell. It ran from Tewksbury Jct in Tewksbury to a junction with the Essex RR in Peabody. It depended on trackage rights to get into Salem and to get into Lowell. It used the Lowell and Lawrence to get into Lowell.

That gave the Boston and Lowell access to Salem. At the time the Boston and Maine had built it's own line to Boston and no longer used the present Wildcat to get to Wilmington to continue to Boston over the B&L.

The B&L offered service from Lowell to Boston by running from Lawrence, Andover, Tewksbury, then instead of crossing over the B&M on the Salem and Lowell, it ran down the present Wildcat to Wilmington and onto B&L to Boston.

Don't forget about the former S. Reading Branch. It ran from S. Reading to S. Danvers. S. Danvers is now Peabody and S. Reading is Wakefield. It was a way for going from Salem MA to Boston via the B&M instead of the Eastern.

The Saugus Branch was a threat railroad that provided a way for people in Saugus to get to Boston via the B&M instead of the Eastern. The Eastern ended up buy it or getting control and rerouted the line back to the Eastern Route and eliminated the connection with the B&M.

The Georgetown Branch allowed for an easy route from Haverhill to Newburyport via the line from Wakefield to Newburyport. the Georgtown branch connected with the Wakefield to Newburyport line in Georgetown. It provided an alternate route to Boston but I suspect that wasn't of much value.

The West Amesbury and Amesbury branches simply ran out of customers and were abandoned. West Amesbury was the former name of Merrimac MA. There was talk to the two lines being connected but that never happened.

There are more but that's enough for now.
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Re: futile railroads in N.E. - The Medway Branch R.R.

Postby MaineCoonCat » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:35 pm

My nominee:
On their web site in the section titled "Norfolk's Railroads" The Town of Norfolk, Ma. wrote:The Medway Branch Railroad incorporated in 1849; organized in 1850 and opened for service in Jan 1853. A little engine - the "Hooksett" built in June of 1842 and 2 wooden coaches, ran 26 round trips between North Wrentham (Norfolk) and Medway, via Rockville (Medway) where stage connections could be made to East Medway.
Torn up in 1864..
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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby number7 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:07 pm

"
Top
Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby markffisch » Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:42 pm
How about the Manchester NH to South Acton? Somehow it manages to avoid anything resembling a city and had the Worcester Nashua and Portland to its west and the B&M to its east.
"

That route you are talking about was two lines. One of which is still in service today. The section from Nashua to Manchester is still used. The NAB section which ran from Nashua to Acton is not.

The NAB was known as the "red line" because it always lost money. Not sure why they built it. You can still find parts of the right of way, including a couple of stone arch bridges.
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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby RussNelson » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:14 pm

Cool. So we're up to three unfinished railroads in Massachussetts. There's over 30 in NY, so I'm guessing that there are more than just 3 in MA.
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Re: Most futile railroads - unfinished railroads in Mass.

Postby MaineCoonCat » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:02 pm

RussNelson wrote:Cool. So we're up to three unfinished railroads in Massachussetts. There's over 30 in NY, so I'm guessing that there are more than just 3 in MA.

Anyone wanting (and with the patience) to research this might want to start at: http://archives.lib.state.ma.us/handle/2452/50509/browse?value=Massachusetts.+Board+of+Railroad+Commissioners.&type=author
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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby number7 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:00 am

Thank you Mr. Barn, that was a very interesting link. I read through the first report, 1886 I believe it was. The section on railroad accidents was particularly interesting.

I'll have to bookmark that page and read more as I have time.
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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby Bethlehem Jct. » Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:06 pm

I want to nominate the line from Manchester, NH to Milford, NH. I think it was built by the B&M, who by that time had taken control of the B&L and Boston, Concord & Montreal (successor to the Concord RR between Concord and Manchester). IIRC, the Ayer, MA to Milford line, via Pepperell, was controlled by the Fitchburg RR. The B&M built (or took control, don't recall which off the top of my head) so as to deny the Fitchburg a route to Manchester. The two lines only interchanged with the former Nashua RR line that went from Nashua to Wilton and beyond. There was no direct interchange between the two north-south lines such as a diamond crossing of the east-west line. When the B&M took control of the Fitchburg, the Milford-Manchester branch served no purpose, although one can argue that was the case to begin with. It was abandoned in the early 20's.
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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby Aerie » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:22 am

number7 wrote:One of the reasons for the creation of so many branches was as a way of a third party company making money by building a "threat railroad" that either the B&M or B&L or Eastern would have to buy to avoid it falling into the hands of it's competitor.


There is also the fact that railroads were granted a time-limited monopoly on their initial routes. When the Boston&Lowell was built, I believe it had a 25 or 30 year monopoly on Boston to Lowell traffic. Similarly, the Boston&Maine had a monopoly on Boston-Lawrence traffic. As the time period of the granted monopolies were about to end, the Boston&Lowell built a line into Lawrence, and the Boston&Maine built a line into Lowell. The Boston&Maine station (as opposed to the Boston&Lowell station) still stands on Central Street in Lowell. So many of these odd branches were a reaction to the monopoly being about to end. I think that at one point, Massachusetts had the highest density of rail lines in the country. I live near the bed of the Lawrence&Lowell railroad, which I believe was the Boston&Lowell's way of entering Lawrence.
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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby number7 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:19 pm

I read the same thing Bethlehem Jct, the B&M wanted to deter the Fitchburg from extending their line from Milford to Manchester so they put a line in. Shortly thereafter the B&M ended up with the Fitchburg. Colossal waste of time and money. I read that the line was abandoned in 1926 and the iron taken up in 1930.

I agree with you that this line was definitely a futile one.
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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby number7 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:42 pm

I agree with you Aerie, the railroads did have exclusivity that protected their territory for a period of time. When the exclusivity was up, other railroads could enter the territory. The Lowell and Lawrence was useful in that it did give the B&L access to Lawrence. It also provided people in Lawrence with an alternative route to Boston should they not wish to use the B&M.
The Lowell and Lawrence would also provide a route for passengers to get from Lawrence to Salem MA without having to use the Essex RR. The Lowell and Lawrence depot was in North Lawrence. I believe the location of their bridge over the river is now a road bridge.

Now, when passenger service was profitable, these lines made sense. People depended on the railroads for their transportation. It was always best to have at least two railroads to choose from. Both railroads would hopefully keep each other honest. Competition is good.

When the B&M ended up with everything and as passenger service became unprofitable these lines no longer had any justification.

After all, how many routes between two towns or cities does one railroad need?

Traffic from Lawrence Yard to say the former Eastman Gelatin in Peabody now goes Lawrence, Woburn, Boston, Salem, Peabody.

In the past it could have ran from Lawrence over the Essex to Peabody square then down the S. Reading to the customer. Or, it could have ran down the B&M to Wakefield then over the S. Reading Branch to the customer. If you were bored you could have gone Lawrence, Bradford, Georgetown, Danvers, Peabody SQ, then the S. Reading to the customer.
If you were looking to try something new you could have gone via the Lowell and Lawrence to Salem Jct, then the Salem and Lowell to Peabody SQ, then the S. Reading to the customer. After 128 was built on the S. Reading Branch, you could have taken the B&M to Wakefield Jct, then over the "high car line" to Peabody SQ, then the remaining portion of the S. Reading branch to the customer. The "high car line" was the Danvers to Newburyport line as far as West Peabody, from there you banged a right and switched onto the Salem and Lowell to Peabody square. From there you went into Salem over the Essex RR.
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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby number7 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:53 pm

So, how do we make futile lines less futile?

We build our highways only 2 lanes in each direction and for about 5 tons. Anything heavier goes by rail.

The money saved goes into rail.

We let any qualified operating company use the iron. Their fees go to pay for the maintainance of the track.

We require public transportation to use rail.

It's profitable to operate a bus, one driver and no charge for the right of way. Well, it would be more profitable to use a railbus, one driver, better fuel economy, and a higher capacity. Should be even more profitable.

The current model of one company owning the right of way is not a good model. The tracks should be usable by any qualified company.

Why isn't it a good model? Right of ways are too valuable to be under the control of a single company. Since right of ways were usually taken at gunpoint from their owners, they should be put to the best possible use.

If you build a company that needs rail service, you build it near an existing right of way, put in your connecting track and either contract with a railroad company to move your freight or if you can't get a good deal, buy a loco, cars, and hire a competent crew and move your freight yourself.
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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby newpylong » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:23 pm

Pass what you're puffing on buddy!


number7 wrote:So, how do we make futile lines less futile?

We build our highways only 2 lanes in each direction and for about 5 tons. Anything heavier goes by rail.

The money saved goes into rail.

We let any qualified operating company use the iron. Their fees go to pay for the maintainance of the track.

We require public transportation to use rail.

It's profitable to operate a bus, one driver and no charge for the right of way. Well, it would be more profitable to use a railbus, one driver, better fuel economy, and a higher capacity. Should be even more profitable.

The current model of one company owning the right of way is not a good model. The tracks should be usable by any qualified company.

Why isn't it a good model? Right of ways are too valuable to be under the control of a single company. Since right of ways were usually taken at gunpoint from their owners, they should be put to the best possible use.

If you build a company that needs rail service, you build it near an existing right of way, put in your connecting track and either contract with a railroad company to move your freight or if you can't get a good deal, buy a loco, cars, and hire a competent crew and move your freight yourself.
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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby ferroequinarchaeologist » Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:52 am

So, number7, exactly what is your position in the Obama administration? :-)

Meanwhile, back at the basic question: consider the era when these railroads were built. Rail was the only alternative to feet or the horse, and before harnessing the power of steam, the entire economy of the country depended on the horse. This contributed to what appears to be overbuilding that left us saddled with an excess of railroads when viewed from the 21st century. All of the other political and economic rationalizations mentioned are valid, but there is this umbrella consideration that I haven't seen mentioned. Neigh?

PBM
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Re: Most futile railroads in New England

Postby Ridgefielder » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:47 am

ferroequinarchaeologist wrote:So, number7, exactly what is your position in the Obama administration? :-)

Meanwhile, back at the basic question: consider the era when these railroads were built. Rail was the only alternative to feet or the horse, and before harnessing the power of steam, the entire economy of the country depended on the horse. This contributed to what appears to be overbuilding that left us saddled with an excess of railroads when viewed from the 21st century. All of the other political and economic rationalizations mentioned are valid, but there is this umbrella consideration that I haven't seen mentioned. Neigh?

PBM

That was actually my question in starting this thread. Which railroads in New England were so ridiculous that were basically redundant even back when the only alternative to a train was a horse.
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Peterborough & Shirley RR

Postby NashuaActon&Boston » Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:01 am

The Peterborough & Shirley RR was quite a turkey. Early in RR construction for central MA, the P&S, begun around 1848, would never serve it's namesake towns - Shirley, Massachusetts & Peterborough, NH - neither ever graced by P&S rail. The MA segment of the line struck north from the Fitchburg at Ayer, MA and ran through rural W. Groton and Townsend, MA. North of the NH border the RR took a bizarre swing in it's course, made a fishhook turn away from Peterborough and settled it's northern terminus at the unlikely hamlet of Greenville, NH. Never a financially bountiful line, the P&S eventually became a B&M backwater branch that somehow managed to remain intact into the 1970s. But floods, washouts, poor ROW, etc. had by the mid-1970s reduced the active rail to West Townsend, and around 1981 Townsend also lost it's local turn. Today, only two customers and a mile of active track remain on what PAR calls their Greenville Industrial Branch.

The P&S never had a chance - even at it's height it was still a dead end branch line into rural NH hill country; no other RR connections, zero long term viability.
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