Reformatory Branch

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Reformatory Branch

Postby outinindiana » Mon Aug 14, 2006 3:52 pm

I was thumbing through a 1993 B&M Bulletin article on BL-2s, and noticed under "Branchline Restrictions" that they were prohibited from the Reformatory Branch.

Where was this located?
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Postby Guilford Guy » Mon Aug 14, 2006 7:03 pm

bedford-concord center
the line from bedford-concord was abandoned in 1962
the line used to conitinue al the way to a New Haven interchange just south of where the New Havens lowell line crosses route 2
The line from the NH junction-reformartory station(where the rotary is now) was abandoned in 1900 and the line from concord center- reformatory followed in 1927
more info on http://www.bedforddepot.org
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Postby outinindiana » Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:53 am

Funny they kept calling it the Reformatory Branch into the 1950s even though the tracks had been abandoned to Reformatory in 1927.
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Postby NellsChoo » Tue Aug 15, 2006 12:02 pm

I would love to see photos of the area before the rotary. I read that the station and adjacent buildings are where the state police and garage buildings are now. There is a small foundation just beyond the fence by the cows at the reformatory and I wonder if it was once railroad related...
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Postby Ron Newman » Wed Aug 23, 2006 10:08 am

From Bedford Depot to the Sudbury River in Concord, nearly all of the Reformatory Branch right-of-way is intact, and used as an unpaved dirt trail. It's easy to ride on a mountain or hybrid bicycle.

Along Railroad Avenue in Bedford, a few houses have been built on top of the right-of-way. In a couple of other places, short stretches have been paved to serve as access roads.

There is no longer a bridge over the Sudbury River (probably hasn't been in many decades), and I've never tried to walk or bike the right-of-way on the other side of the river. But you can still trace it on a Google satellite map.

See http://www.bedforddepot.org/MinutemanBikeway.html#RBRT for some information and photos (be sure to click on the links), and http://www.bedforddepot.org/RBRT_guide.pdf for a detailed trail guide.
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Postby l008com » Sat Sep 02, 2006 5:10 am

Its been discussed before, but I've never done it myself. Has anyone ever gone past the rotary on foot (or bike) and checked out that other branch, to see if you could see any evidence of where the reformatory branch used to connect to it? I haven't been up that way on my bike all year.
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Postby NellsChoo » Sat Sep 02, 2006 9:55 am

What part of the reformatory had a siding? Also, I am assuming we are talking about the actual jail, not the area that now has the cows...
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Postby cpf354 » Sun Sep 03, 2006 7:44 pm

Favorite topic here as I grew up near the branch in Concord, near the infamous "Filter Beds". My Dad recalls seeing a maroon and gold B&M switcher towing a box car, probably from Concord Lumber, shortly before the abandonment, and I spent many a day walking the right of way near the filter beds after the rails had been removed and the ties were left to rot. There were a lot date nails in them, mostly from the 20's. After awhile the town of Concord appropriated the ROW adjacent to the filter beds for sewage disposal; this was in a shallow cut just west of the grade crossing there, and the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge took over the portion next to it for their walking trail. That part is the best preserved and easiest to walk. There are precious few relics left; a tie here and there, and two ring posts, one east of the filter bed crossing, the other just west of Monument Street, surrounded by a tree!
I've hiked the portion west of the river around back of Nashawtuc Hill to Assabet Ave, back in the early 70's, and the rest of the way to Bedford as well, the last time being in 1974 when the Budd car was kept there over the weekends. Today I still get a chance to hike it from the Concord Wastewater Treatment plant to Monument Street (the cut has been restored to nature but overgrown, an adjacent path serves to maintain the trail), and it's used by bikers and walkers, even though there is a perpetual muddy spot in the cut just east of Monument Street.
The site of Middlesex Jct, where the branch reached is furthest extent connecting with the Old Colony Div. of the New Haven is almost impossible to find due to the fact that the prison farm has obliterated any traces of the right of way west of the rotary. However if you look at Google Earth you might be able to make out where the right of way used to be.
Reportedly the parking lot of the Concord State Police barracks is the site of the turntable at Reformatory Station. The B&M didn't go into the prison itself, it was a New Haven spur that served it from the yard at West Concord.
When I hike the ROW, I sometimes imagine all the 1900 era prisoners, no doubt in prison stripes and chains riding the rails to the "big house".
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Postby Ron Newman » Sun Sep 03, 2006 9:26 pm

What were the 'filter beds' ?
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Postby NellsChoo » Mon Sep 04, 2006 8:31 am

Oh, ok, so where did the NEW HAVEN spur go into the jail?? :wink: :wink: And it sounds like the farm is on the old right of way... which makes me still wonder what that little old foundation right next to rt2A is beyond the farm fence.

I'd also like to know what filter beds are.
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Postby cpf354 » Sun Jan 07, 2007 1:08 am

NellsChoo wrote:Oh, ok, so where did the NEW HAVEN spur go into the jail?? :wink: :wink: And it sounds like the farm is on the old right of way... which makes me still wonder what that little old foundation right next to rt2A is beyond the farm fence.

I'd also like to know what filter beds are.


Where the Town of Concord deposited it's raw sewage. Now the site of a modern "Wastewater Treamtment Plant". :-D
The BB(the Lexington Branch local freight) crews hated going out that way, according to the late Ralph Fisher, who was a brakeman on the B&M in the late 40's. There was a bad derailment there around '45 or '46, and it seemed "like the end of the world". It still does.
The New Haven spur into the prison entered from the south side, leading off the small yard in West Concord north of the B&M. It would be the "back door" as seen from Rt 2.
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Postby atkelly » Fri Apr 27, 2007 3:59 pm

I don't believe that the Reformatory Branch was soley just a link to the New Haven Northern Old Colony Line (aka THe Framingham and Lowell). A B&M Property called the Nashua and Acton ran over trackage rights & at times paralel to the Framingham and Lowell and diverged at the North Acton Station (Ledgerock Way & Main Street). The Nashua and Acton was abandon ~1926.

The Branch never ran into the farm. Basically throught the police barracks, Mass HighWay and then across the street

There were only a few customers on the route. Concord Lumber, a nursrey etc..
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Postby cpf354 » Sat May 26, 2007 8:29 am

atkelly wrote:I don't believe that the Reformatory Branch was soley just a link to the New Haven Northern Old Colony Line (aka THe Framingham and Lowell). A B&M Property called the Nashua and Acton ran over trackage rights & at times paralel to the Framingham and Lowell and diverged at the North Acton Station (Ledgerock Way & Main Street). The Nashua and Acton was abandon ~1926.

The Branch never ran into the farm. Basically throught the police barracks, Mass HighWay and then across the street

There were only a few customers on the route. Concord Lumber, a nursrey etc..


The only reason the Reformatory Branch was extended to the OCRR at Middlesex Jct, located just south of the Rt 2 crossing, was to connect with the Nashua, Acton and Boston, which ran from West Concord on the Fitchburg RR to Nashua, using the OC trackage to North Acton originally, then building it's own parallel track. It was used at various times in the 19th century as a "threat route" by the Boston and Lowell to detour traffic away from the Nashua and Lowell, and then by the Concord RR to divert traffic away from both the N&L and the Boston and Lowell. By 1900 all these railroads were under control of the B&M, and the connection at Middlesex Jct was deemed superfluous, and the branch was cut back to Reformatory Station.
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Re: Reformatory Branch

Postby NashuaActon&Boston » Sat May 06, 2017 8:45 am

According to R.D. Karr's essential Lost Railroads of New England, the reformatory branch was abandoned between Concord Center (across from Concord Lumber) and Bedford Station in 1962. Apparently there was an excursion over the branch sometime in the 1970s - I've just heard of this and cannot entirely attest to veracity. However, the attached photo does show a Budd RDC in the yard off of Monument Street, just behind Concord Lumber. It wasn't a Buddliner branch; passenger operations had ceased by 1926..
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Re: Reformatory Branch

Postby B&M 1227 » Sat May 06, 2017 4:19 pm

I'd be very surprised if there was an excursion in the 1970s. the budd looks way too clean for an MBTA era excursion. I'd imagine the pictured fan trip was done in the late 50s/early 60s prior to abandonment.
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