Boston & Albany Railroad history?

Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

Boston & Albany Railroad history?

Postby Mr Lynn » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:30 pm

Howdy--

There's a committee forming (under the auspices of a group called the Framingham Downtown Renaissance) with the aim of helping to restore the H. H. Richardson train station, and also to sponsor a Train Days festival in Framingham (MA) next May. Is there a Boston and Albany Historical Society (like the Boston and Maine one)? Or perhaps a subdivision of the NY Central Historical Society (I looked, but did not find one, and their website suggests this forum)? I would love to make contact with folks who could teach us a little about the history of the B&A (beyond what can be found in Wikipedia), about the history of the station, and who might have resources we could draw upon for historical displays, etc.

If there are individuals reading this forum who might be interested in helping with these projects, please let me know. If any of you worked on the railroad (especially Framingham residents), I'd love to hear your stories. Our neighbor, Joe Sweeney, was retired from the B&A/NYC/PC (I have a framed trio of patches of his from all three marks), and one of my great regrets is that I never sat down with him and recorded his recollections. He worked in the Framingham yard as an inspector.

I'm not sure if this is the best topic area to post this inquiry. Moderators, if you think it better elsewhere (Events?), please feel free to move it or link to it.

Not sure if this board supports Private Messages, but you can email me at: MrLynn (at) WalkingCreek (dot) com.

/Mr Lynn
Mr Lynn
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:06 pm

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby NYC_Dave » Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:46 am

The following website contains a history and other B&A information.
http://web.archive.org/web/20041126052402/http://home.att.net/~rlgroves/
NYC_Dave
 
Posts: 199
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:06 am

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby richbowes1 » Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:13 pm

Mr Lynn,

My family called Framingham home from about 1880 until I moved out of town in 1978.

I retired from the Norfolk Southern Railway in 2009 after a railroad career which begin on the New York Central RR in Framingham shoveling snow in the winter of 1965. I was 16 years old at the time. I went on to work for the NYC and the Penn Central in the Maintenance of Way Dept. headquartered at the Framingham Depot during school vacations and subsequent winters. After leaving college in 1970, I hired on with the Penn Central Police Dept. My territory included the Framingham area during the Penn Central and Conrail eras until I transfrerred to PA in 1987, and eventually ended up on the NS.

My grandfather hired on the B&A in 1905, worked as a telegrapher, tower operator, train dispatcher, and Chief Train Dispatcher. He retired in 1952 as a tower operator at Tower 20 which was located at the B&A / NH diamond just east of the Framingham Depot.

My father hired on the B&A in 1941 and was Trainmaster with an office in the south east corner of the Framingham Depot from about 1963 - 1969. He retired from the Penn Central as Chief Regional Rules Examiner in 1971.

My uncle hired on the B&A in 1942 and worked for many years as a passenger train conductor on locals and the New England States until his death in 1971.

My older brother worked his summer vacations from college as crossing tender at Concord St., ticket seller at the Framingham Depot, and stevedore at the Framingham Auto Yard on Hollis St.

I have other relatives who went over to the dark side and worked for the NH RR in Framingham in the 1930's and 1940's.

I am a big fan of H H Richardson and his work.

Even though I now live on Cape Cod, I would like to take part in the restoration of the Depot as it has been a big part in mine and my family's history.

Rich Bowes
(richbowes1@comcast.net)
richbowes1
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:32 pm

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby Mr Lynn » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:04 pm

Many thanks, NYC_Dave, for the Wayback Machine link to the defunct B&A site. There's a host of information there, which I'll have some fun perusing. There were links to some postcard pictures of the Framingham Station that I hadn't seen before, too. Do you know whether the site's creator, Ronald L. Groves, P.E., is available? There's an email address, which I can try, but I'm a little apprehensive, given that the site has not been updated since 2001, and after 2004 the original link has gone black.

BTW, on the B&A site there's a link to two videotapes about the B&A, at a site run by two railfans called A&R Productions, out of Kensington, CT. I did send off an email inquiry, which so far has not bounced. It would be neat of the videos were still available (ideally DVD or downloadable).

And Rich Bowes—I was thrilled to get your post (and email). You are exactly the type of person I was hoping to contact, both for history, and for help if the restoration actually comes to pass. There's an FDR meeting tomorrow morning, where I hope to get an update of the current situation. I can tell you that the station is privately owned; the owners want to sell; and there is a potential buyer. We're waiting to hear the results of those negotiations. The station has not been occupied since a restaurant called Ebeneezer's left a few years ago, and it needs work (especially the slate roof). The new FDR director, Holli Andrews, has already uncovered a number of possible grant resources for historic railroad station restoration, some of which can be used even for a privately-owned station, with at least some attention toward its original use and character. The station is on the National Register of Historic Places, which places constraints on what kind of changes can be made.

As soon as I find out more I'll update this thread, and you privately by email.

One question. You write,

I have other relatives who went over to the dark side and worked for the NH RR in Framingham in the 1930's and 1940's.


How did the NH RR ever get to Framingham? As far as I know the line was always B&A (leased to NYC) until the Penn-Central merger.

/Mr Lynn
Mr Lynn
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:06 pm

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby Mr Lynn » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:55 pm

Addendum:

Rich— Re my question about the NH in Framingham, I missed your remark about your grandfather and Tower 20, "located at the B&A / NH diamond just east of the Framingham Depot."

Then I found this thread about the NH Framingham-Lowell Branch:

viewtopic.php?f=91&t=44207

The discussion in that thread has it going up through Sudbury. I'm puzzled where the ROW was in Framingham, and where that diamond might have been. Need a map!

/Mr Lynn
Mr Lynn
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:06 pm

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby Kilgore Trout » Thu Jul 12, 2012 3:59 pm

The NH valuation maps drawn up in 1915 may offer a clue: http://magic.lib.uconn.edu/mash_up/nynhhrr_index.html

This map in particular shows the B&A as the dashed line running alongside Waverly St. If you look closely, you can see a small building marked "B&A Switch Tower" between Howard St. and the B&A tracks, next to the Framingham Coal Co.
Welcome to New York Penn Station. You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.
User avatar
Kilgore Trout
 
Posts: 179
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 1:09 am

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby Mr Lynn » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:23 pm

Kilgore Trout wrote:The NH valuation maps drawn up in 1915 may offer a clue: http://magic.lib.uconn.edu/mash_up/nynhhrr_index.html

This map in particular shows the B&A as the dashed line running alongside Waverly St. If you look closely, you can see a small building marked "B&A Switch Tower" between Howard St. and the B&A tracks, next to the Framingham Coal Co.


Wow! That's quite a resource! Do those 'valuation maps' exist for other RRs, too?

When Rich said 'diamond', I envisioned a perpendicular crossing, heading directly north, and I couldn't imagine where the right of way could have been. But looking at the map, I see that in 1915 the Old Colony/New Haven crossed the B&A at a shallow angle, and then ran nearly along side until opposite the station. It looks like the North Yard was actually an OC/NH yard, not (as I had assumed) a B&A yard (still a CSX hump yard)—and the map shows a large roundhouse right by Farm Pond!

I wonder if there are any pictures of that.

It also appears that what what we now call the Fitchburg Subdivision of CSX was then originally an OC/NH route, too, not a B&A one. That, of course, is still in use (one train a day, out and back, I think). The Lowell branch (through Sudbury) has been abandoned and is in part a rail trail.

The crossing at Concord St., with both B&A and OC/NH tracks, must have been even more of a roadblock than it is now. There was also the Boston and Middlesex Street Rwy on the other side of the station, down Rt. 135. But, of course, in 1915 you didn't have the auto and truck traffic we have today.

I'm not sure about the ROW south to Mansfield. Have to peruse these maps more closely. But thanks for the great link!

/Mr Lynn
Mr Lynn
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:06 pm

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby Pat Fahey » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:33 am

HI

Here a shot taken in Framingham , Mass in 1954 , here we see a New Haven freight train heading down the Sherborn branch of the New Haven RR. IN the background we see the B&A`Tower 20 , the train has just crossed the double track diamonds on the B&A. The photo was taken by George Hildreth now part of my collection . Pat.
Attachments
Framingham, Mass  CP 20 & Freight NH # 2-001.jpg
Framingham , Mass 1954
Framingham, Mass CP 20 & Freight NH # 2-001.jpg (25.15 KiB) Viewed 6178 times
Pat Fahey
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:06 pm

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby Kilgore Trout » Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:25 pm

Mr Lynn wrote:
Kilgore Trout wrote:The NH valuation maps drawn up in 1915 may offer a clue: http://magic.lib.uconn.edu/mash_up/nynhhrr_index.html

This map in particular shows the B&A as the dashed line running alongside Waverly St. If you look closely, you can see a small building marked "B&A Switch Tower" between Howard St. and the B&A tracks, next to the Framingham Coal Co.


Wow! That's quite a resource! Do those 'valuation maps' exist for other RRs, too?

The Interstate Commerce Commission mandated in the 1910s that every railroad submit an inventory of their property to establish the value of the road and set freight rates. These New Haven maps were included in a vast set of papers rescued from the NH headquarters and donated to UConn. Presumably something similar happened to the NYC maps, unfortunately I cannot tell you what their disposition might be. Given that they hold value in establishing property lines and ownership, it is unlikely they have disappeared.
When Rich said 'diamond', I envisioned a perpendicular crossing, heading directly north, and I couldn't imagine where the right of way could have been. But looking at the map, I see that in 1915 the Old Colony/New Haven crossed the B&A at a shallow angle, and then ran nearly along side until opposite the station. It looks like the North Yard was actually an OC/NH yard, not (as I had assumed) a B&A yard (still a CSX hump yard)—and the map shows a large roundhouse right by Farm Pond!

I wonder if there are any pictures of that.

Check perhaps http://photos.nerail.org.
Welcome to New York Penn Station. You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.
User avatar
Kilgore Trout
 
Posts: 179
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 1:09 am

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby Pat Fahey » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:30 am

HI
For B&A track charts , go to this web site http://www.zekedev.com , or you can use your search engine for B&A track Charts . The web site does show the entire B&A , except for the branches , Pat.
Pat Fahey
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:06 pm

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby Otto Vondrak » Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:41 pm

Mr Lynn wrote:There's a committee forming (under the auspices of a group called the Framingham Downtown Renaissance) with the aim of helping to restore the H. H. Richardson train station, and also to sponsor a Train Days festival in Framingham (MA) next May. Is there a Boston and Albany Historical Society (like the Boston and Maine one)? Or perhaps a subdivision of the NY Central Historical Society (I looked, but did not find one, and their website suggests this forum)?


Hello Mr. Lynn-

Here's a good place to start on the history of the Boston & Albany Railroad:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_and_Albany_Railroad

The B&A was always operated as a part of the New York Central from 1900 until it was formally merged into the corporation around 1961. Your best bet would be to make an inquiry with the NYCSHS if you are seeking specific data.

-otto-
----------------------------------------------
Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site :: A Magazine I Read Often :: A Museum I Volunteer At
User avatar
Otto Vondrak
 
Posts: 20141
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:47 pm
Location: New York

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby Allen Hazen » Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:17 pm

A bit of rumination, followed by a QUESTION.

The B&A was under New York Central control from the beginning of the 20th C, but allowed to use its own name. (Somewhere-- maybe the Wikipedia article Otto helpfully linked-- this was called "branding". Somewhere else-- maybe one of Alvin Stauffer's books-- I've read that this was in deference to Bostonian sensibilities, NYC not wanting to rub it in that the B&A was no longer an independent "home town" railroad.) I remember seeing line-side buildings with "Boston and Albany" lettering as late as the 1970s.

In the steam era it was also distinctive in its motive power: being more mountainous than the "Water Level Route," the B&A got a number of classes of distinctive steam power. (A-1 Berkshires, J-2 Hudsons, a class of heavy Pacifics (K-5 or K-6, I forget which) that, like the J-2, had 75" drivers instead of the NYC standard of 79"... and I think the NYC's small group of USRA 2-10-2 were all assigned to the B&A.)

At the end of the WW II, the B&A had enough traffic that it would certainly have qualified as a "Class 1" railroad had it been independent. The NYC startedf an intensive program of dieselizing the B&A: B&A operations were dieselized before 1950 (so, thought of as a separate railroad, it would have been one of the very first Class 1's dieselized!). This made sense in lots of ways. With its mountainous profile and cold New England winters, the B&A was probably the least intrinsically "steam-friendly" part of the NYC system, and it was also the part furthest from the coal mines, so it made good economic sense to dieselize here first. I can't help thinking that the early elimination of steam had "educational" benefits as well: New York Central management had a chance to observe what running a fully dieselized railroad would be like before making too many costly mistakes elsewhere in the system!

B&A dieselization started early: some of the NYC's early diesel switchers (Alco "High Hood" models, etc, in the late 1930s) were initially assigned to the B&A. Leading to my

QUESTION: most B&A steam power, at least before WW II, was lettered "Boston and Albany" rather than "New York Central". Were any early diesels lettered for the B&A, or were they "branded" as New York Central power right from their delivery?
Allen Hazen
 
Posts: 2331
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 10:14 pm
Location: Edmonton, Canada (formerly Melbourne, Australia)

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby NYC_Dave » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:03 am

The five B&A high-hood ALCOs were lettered Boston & Albany 680-682. They were renumbered 806-810 in 1948. According to the book "New York Central System Diesel Locomotives" they retained B&A lettering until 1952.
NYC_Dave
 
Posts: 199
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:06 am

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby Brian Mahaney » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:55 am

Hello Mr. Lynn and everyone else . Mr Lynn regarding information about the Boston and Albany line particularly South Framingham and with My special focus on interlocking O-364 Framingham center. as well as Saxonville branch Please check what i may have in these places on my Flickr site.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/30860410@N07

You will find Framingham ,Natick , Ashland , Beacon Park , Worcester , Grafton. Railroad interest with again a focus on
a Mechanical interlocking located at Framingham center. with special interest on a pipe connected low dwarf semaphore
By Thomas George Stiles Co Arlington New Jersey.

as time wont permit me (at the moment) to glean over , yet one more railroad site,, I will have to look over the
Railroad.Net site when time permits

Love the supplied picture of tower 20, BTW ..

as you will find one in my site not as unobstructed as the Nets photo.
Those that like the above will find that and a little more ,, local Wildlife around The Framingham and Natick area's

I am an ex freight conductor of the Boston line from 2000 - 2006 love wildlife and animals . Mechanical railway interlocking
and pipe and wire technology to operate signals The NYC&HRRRCO , NYCRR , B&A , NHRR , PCRR. Of the Massachusetts area.
Brian Mahaney
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:22 am

Re: Boston and Albany History?

Postby Otto Vondrak » Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:42 pm

Allen Hazen wrote:A bit of rumination, followed by a QUESTION.

The B&A was under New York Central control from the beginning of the 20th C, but allowed to use its own name... I remember seeing line-side buildings with "Boston and Albany" lettering as late as the 1970s... QUESTION: most B&A steam power, at least before WW II, was lettered "Boston and Albany" rather than "New York Central". Were any early diesels lettered for the B&A, or were they "branded" as New York Central power right from their delivery?


Most of the NYC fleet used on the B&A stayed on the B&A territory, so that was part of the rationale. I'm pretty sure there's still a freight house somewhere with BOSTON & ALBANY RAILROAD painted on the side of it today... But that's not indicative of anything except a testament to the longevity of paint. :-) The B&A was officially merged into the NYC in 1961. Before that it was also common to see everything from ticket stock to timetables lettered BOSTON & ALBANY in big letters, and NEW YORK CENTRAL in smaller letters, if at all.

Here's a good example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ottomatic77/4401381371/

-otto-
----------------------------------------------
Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site :: A Magazine I Read Often :: A Museum I Volunteer At
User avatar
Otto Vondrak
 
Posts: 20141
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:47 pm
Location: New York

Next

Return to New York Central

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests