Fuss and Bother

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Fuss and Bother

Postby trainsinmaine » Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:32 am

This is one of those "water over the dam" questions, but I'm going to ask it anyway: When it became apparent that the B&M was going to have to relocate part of the Central Mass. Branch at the turn of the last century due to the construction of the Wachusett Reservoir, why didn't its management try to strike a deal with the New Haven for trackage rights over the West Berlin-to-Clinton segment of the Agricultural Branch? A connection could have been made between the West Berlin crossover and downtown Clinton, then another connection with the WN&P. It seems to me that if such a deal could have been made, it would have saved the B&M the enormous expense of building a tunnel, a huge viaduct, and four to five miles of brand new track. The two lines ran roughly perpendicular to each other and weren't in competition; what would have been the problem? Was it mostly that (before J.P. Morgan) the two railroads hated each other?
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Re: Fuss and Bother

Postby jaymac » Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:07 am

The Central Mass. was originally primarily active along an east-west axis to Northampton/Springfield. The Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board -- later the MDC -- contracted to provide the relocated line as part of the dam project, so there was no expense, other than inconvenience, to the B&M. That and other information -- including the only subsequent establishment of Boston-Clinton passenger service -- is available in the B&MRRHS book The Central Mass., the 2008 expanded second edition being the better source than the original 1975 edition.
If the dam project had resulted in rerouting over what is now the Fitchburg Secondary, downtown Clinton would have been in near terminal gridlock. Grade separation and the two-level station had not yet occurred, and bringing what was then far more active rail traffic onto Clinton-proper roadways would have crippled horse-powered and motor-powered activity in the town. 100 -- even 50 -- years after the original construction, the routing might seem misplaced, but for its time, it was on target.
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