Interesting Branch off the Saugus Loop

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Interesting Branch off the Saugus Loop

Postby l008com » Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:31 am

The Saugas loop is now mostly a rail trail with a few bits of rail visible here and there. So I was checking it out on historic aerials.com to see if I could find anything interesting. And I did find something very interesting! If you go to the ghost rotary in Revere by the movie theater, where Rt 1 and Rt 95 were support to meet/split, it looks like they built a branch from the Saugas loop all the way over to the area behind the shopping center. It ran right along the side of route 1 then looped over the marsh and under Rt. If you look fast, it actually looks like it's a street ramp. I was looking at it for a while before I realized that it shouldn't be there at all, and then that it wasn't a street, it had to be rail. Here's the big catch though, it ONLY shows up in the 1969 imagery. It's not there in 1955 and it's not there in 1971. And theres essentially no sign of it at all in any modern imagery. Given the way the tracks appear to cut right across the under construction portion of 95 that never became a road, I imagine there is probably some ROW grading you can still spot over there. My guess is this was a temporary track they used to get the huge volume of material needed to fill in a highway's worth of revere marsh (and never do anything with it :) )
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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:41 am

Correct, it was used to haul aggregate for the I-95 project as they were filling in massive amounts of marshland. As far as I could ever find out, there was no time wasted in removing the spur once I-95 was cancelled, so it was removed very quickly.

I suspect that this berm (in the link you will see -- from bottom to top -- a guard rail, a dip (fills with water at high tide), then the berm in question, and then the tidal waters) once hosted the spur: https://www.google.com/maps/@42.4317003 ... 312!8i6656

EDIT: Figured I'd revisit Historic Aerials again and yes, that berm, plus the grassy shoulder all the way up to the big culvert just north of there was the ROW for the spur. There's no traces of rail on the I-95 ROW anymore, I'd be curious if you could find any old spikes on this berm, though.
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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby edbear » Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:41 pm

The gravel was brought in from Bow, NH pit in generally four 60 car trains of mostly 2nd hand hopper cars, 240 cars a day Mon-Fri, usually 3 on Sats 180 cars, from April up to about late October-early November 1968. More gravel came down in 1969 and then everything stopped. The B & M acquired I think 300 or so 50-ton hopper cars for the moves. Trains started about 4 am from Bow. A southbound crossover on the NH Mainline was installed at Mystic to allow trains to move via whatever remained of Yard 9 down to Tower C area, out the Eastern to Everett Jct. and onto Saugus Branch. First two trains were out of the way before a. m. rush began, unless there was some incident. Everything usually ran smoothly except those 2nd hand hoppers were not in like-new condition, so once in a while there was a derailment or incident. Second two trains came down after a. m. rush and usually the last load of empties was out of way before dark (it was mostly done in summer). Saugus Branch was beefed up with some xings getting crossing flashers and others had flagmen who worked out of their cars (one prim guy asked question about if he had to go where were the facilities and he was shown brush and trees). I started out in B & M office in 1968 and there was plenty of work for all crafts that year and the next. There was an article in the B & MRR HS Bulletin on the gravel moves. I think B & M had a switch engine at Bow and some M of E people too. Probably had trailers for locker rooms and other crew facilities at Bow too.
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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby l008com » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:24 pm

My first, and most obvious question: Are there any pictures of this spur in action? I haven't seen any but that would be very cool.

My second question, were there any other temporary tracks like this build during the highway construction?
My dad grew up near the Lowell line in Winchester, and he would always say that he heard huge trains going buy with gravel to build the highways when he was a kid. Was that just these trains to fill in the marsh, or were there other areas like this?
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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby b&m 1566 » Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:35 pm

Historicaerials in the 1969 photo shows 4 hoppers sitting on the spur alongside route 1. The 1971 photo shows the physical ROW for the spur removed (I assume that was the plan all along) but highway construction appeared to continue for some time after. The highway was graded where the spur went through, which leaves me to believe that rail service was complete, before the cancelation of the highway.
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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby b&m 1566 » Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:45 pm

l008com wrote:My first, and most obvious question: Are there any pictures of this spur in action? I haven't seen any but that would be very cool.

My second question, were there any other temporary tracks like this build during the highway construction?
My dad grew up near the Lowell line in Winchester, and he would always say that he heard huge trains going buy with gravel to build the highways when he was a kid. Was that just these trains to fill in the marsh, or were there other areas like this?


Not temporary per-say but the Medford Branch was use to bring in fill for the construction of 93. Those trains (for how long and how many, I don't know) were the last trains on that section of the branch.
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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby edbear » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:50 pm

The Medford gravel came from Madbury, about 1961. Unlike the Saugus Branch project, the Medford gravel was unloaded in neighborhoods and there was a huge amount of truck traffic. Besides that a car shaker was used to loosen up any gravel that didn't just drop out the hopper doors. I believe you can find out quite a bit about the Medford gravel in files from what is today's Boston Herald. There were a number of articles in one of the predecessor papers, don't remember if the Record or the American. After the I-95 connector project on the Saugus Branch was abandoned, the B & M brought Airport fill from Madbury to Revere, early 1970s. There was at one time a proposal to bring gravel from a pit in Berlin on the Central Mass. to Waltham, Route 128, when it was widened in the early 1960s. That did not happen.
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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby SemperFidelis » Sun Nov 06, 2016 10:34 am

Not local to your topic, but a similar operation was run in northern New Jersey during the construction of Interstate 280, removing fill displaced in the giant cuts in West Orange and then filling material in across the meadows that make up the flood plains of the Passaic River in the Roseland area.
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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby Scalziand » Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:51 am

edbear wrote: There was at one time a proposal to bring gravel from a pit in Berlin on the Central Mass. to Waltham, Route 128, when it was widened in the early 1960s. That did not happen.


The grading for that spur can still be seen though, veering away from the Fitchberg line to join 128 crossing the Stony Brook basin.
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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:57 pm

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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby Scalziand » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:00 pm

Yeah, that's what I was talking about.
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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby TPR37777 » Tue Nov 29, 2016 12:00 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:Is that this here?: https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3653297 ... a=!3m1!1e3


I happened to be in that area yesterday and walked that ROW, it is actually the Algonquin gas transmission pipeline (you can just make out the white markers on the satellite photo). It was definitely never graded for rail use as the terrain undulates +/- 10 meters or so and includes a deep drainage ditch along the Fitchburg. There were some other markers indicating a more recent utility line had been run through there which is why it looks freshly cleared.
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Re: Interesting Branch off the Saugas Loop

Postby Engineer Spike » Thu Dec 01, 2016 4:02 pm

Has anyone seen the Russell Monroe movie in the series of vintage movies converted to VHS? There is one scene where some F units were hauling fill. It looks like it was near the water. Which project was this? Another scene was a couple of GP7s spotting hoppers at an unloaded/shaker. This appears to be in a residential neighborhood. Where was it? On Youtube there is a movie called 1970s Boston and Maine Cabride. The first part is from Concord, to Ayer. On this leg, they spotted cars at the same unloaded as the Monroe movie.
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