Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

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Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby MaineCoonCat » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:29 pm

When was the last service on the Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch? I remember seeing a small freight plodding across Rte 119 back in probably the late 50's or early 60's (one of my "early memories"). Was this line ever more than marginally profitable? Seems like they just "walked away" from it in Townsend as a lot of the iron was left intact, especially in the Townsend Harbor area.
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby davidp » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:43 pm

Off hand I think the last trains to Greenville were in 1972 when the line was taken out of service due to flood damage. A small manufacturing operation just west of West Groton continued to receive service until the mid-nineties.

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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby Dick H » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:13 pm

From "The Rail Lines of Northern New England" by Robert M. Lindsell

"In New Hampshire, the line served a quarry in Mason, but was always
dependent on Greenville's textile mills, so mill closures there seriously
effected it in the 1930's. Passenger trains ceased on July 8, 1933.
Freight continued beyond West Townsend to Greenville until 1972, when
the B&M took advantage of several relatively minor washouts in New
Hampshire to close the line beyond West Townsend. The length beyond
Townsend Center remained open a few more years to serve the Bates
Corrugated Box Factory and to swtich sidings there, but the B&M cut
back service to the Hollingsworth-Vose paper mill in West Groton in
November 1981. Most of the track between there and Townsend Center
remains in place, though long disused. Guilford continued to serve the
West Groton paper mill for many years".

This book was published in 2000. I do not know what changes have
taken place since then.

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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby NRGeep » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:15 am

Any speeder potential on this abandoned branch?
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby MaineCoonCat » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:28 am

Thanks Guys! I wonder if it was ever formally abandoned south of the NH. border. I did find a site with a little info: http://www.nashuacitystation.org/?railroad=greenville. I find it interesting that it shows on the GIS map of Townsend still as the Peterboro & Shirley Railroad.

Section of map attached.
Attachments
Town of Townsend, MA - Prop...pdf
(68.3 KiB) Downloaded 301 times
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby moth » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:14 am

Much of the line through Townsend and West Groton is slated to become a rail-trail. See http://www.squannacookriverrailtrail.org/ for more info. I think this is likely to happen. It sounds like there are environmental concerns that would prevent the trail from linking up with the Nashua River Rail Trail.

You can see here in West Groton that there are some planters and small rocks blocking the ROW: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&sourc ... 1,,0,20.65

There are actual guardrails blocking the rails (and its been paved over) in Townsend Harbor: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&sourc ... 23,,0,5.91
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby MaineCoonCat » Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:15 pm

Much of the line through Townsend and West Groton is slated to become a rail-trail.


With all the (literally) back yards the line passes through especially in the Harbor area, is there much NIMBY-ism around this?
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby sparkyjay31 » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:52 pm

FYI: The line out of Greenville going thru Mason and into MA is now a pretty well maintained rail trail. You cannot walk the entire length as the Greenville trestle over the Souhegan River was taken down in the late 80's I believe. Anyhow, it's not there. We've been up and down the trail many times. The Greenville Library has a fantastic map of the line from the trestle up to the Greenville depot ( which is now a chinese restaurant ). The original semaphore is still there too. Jay
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby B&Mguy » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:10 am

I heard a story that back in the 1970’s a local pilot flew a small plane underneath the Greenville trestle. He did this as a stunt, and it also gives you an idea of just how high and large this trestle was. I believe that after this took place, one of the reasons that it was removed was so that others wouldn’t try to recreate the stunt. Can anyone verify this?
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby TomNelligan » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:33 am

B&Mguy wrote: I believe that after this took place, one of the reasons that it was removed was so that others wouldn’t try to recreate the stunt. Can anyone verify this?


My guess is that the value of the scrap metal to a cash-starved railroad was a much bigger reason for removing it. I don't remember ever hearing the plane story at the time, although that doesn't mean it didn't happen.
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch - The Plane Story

Postby MaineCoonCat » Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:00 pm

I heard a story that back in the 1970’s a local pilot flew a small plane underneath the Greenville trestle. He did this as a stunt


Guess it did happen..

From: http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Greenville_New_Hampshire_-_History/id/5101327
Greenville once had a Boston & Maine Railroad trestle which was visible from every part of town. Before it was dismantled for safety reasons, local residents turned out one cool, wet morning to watch Bronson Potter, Mason resident and inventor, fly a private airplane underneath the span on a wager. It is widely rumored that he had to "remove a foot from one wing, and bend the other one up a little bit" to fit through. The railroad depot, which still stands, was once an important landmark that literally put the tiny towns of Mason and Greenville "on the map" in New Hampshire.
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch - Probable Dumb Question

Postby MaineCoonCat » Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:41 pm

I'm looking at a "street view" image of the Greenville station using Google Earth (doesn't seem to work with Google Maps). I'm wondering as to why you'd put a semaphore on a station that was the end of the line. After all, the train isn't (or shouldn't be, anyway) going any further, and if there are orders, well ya kinda' gotta' stop anyway. Or am I missing something?

Station is at the corner of Main and Dunster Sts. Now "Panda's Wok" restaurant.
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby bmcdr » Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:53 pm

The "Semaphore" you refer to was actually called a "Train Order Signal" or as in railroad slang, "Order Board". The reason for one being erected on a terminal station was so that when a train arrived at the terminal, the crew could plainly see from a distance that the telegrapher had orders for them. Remember, the B&M first installed train order signals in 1910, there were no radios to communicate with a train crew. A scheduled train due to arrive at such-and-such a time and then due to leave again in the opposite direction would have no reason to go into the station building unless they observed the order board (as they were required by rule to do so). The railroad was, and still is today, a very methodical operation, nothing is left to chance, an old-time rules examiner once told me many years ago, "each of of these rules are written in blood".
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby jbvb » Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:32 pm

I rode an RRE trip Ayer - Greenville (also Ayer - Hollis) sometime about 1970. The 4 RDCs went across the trestle, and on the leg to Hollis, detoured onto the 1/2 mile remaining of the third branch into the area, whose name I can't conveniently find on available maps.
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Re: Ayer - Greenville, Nh. Branch

Postby MaineCoonCat » Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:53 pm

A scheduled train due to arrive at such-and-such a time and then due to leave again in the opposite direction would have no reason to go into the station building unless they observed the order board


Thanks bmcdr! No requirement to "check in" unless the order board was set. I should keep an eye out for an old B&M rule book or copy of same. Probably answer a few other questions I'll come up with.

jbvb, moght that have been the last of the Worcester & Nashua [& Portland] north of Ayer??
Does this map help?: http://www.sandown.us/historical_society/images/rrmap.jpg
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