• Southwest New Hampshire

  • Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.
Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.

Moderator: MEC407

  by b&m 1566
So just to make sure I've got my facts straight; the Fitchburg Railroad had control between Winchendon, MA and Hillsborough, NH by 1890 after leasing the Mondanock. By 1900 the B&M controlled all these tracks. Keene to Elmwood was abandoned 1938/39 the line from Winchendon to Hillsborough was split in two in 1942 with Peterborough to Elmwood being abandoned, then 72 and 84 for the rest south of Peterborough. Elmwood was reconfigured in the 1950's for a straight run between Nashua and Hillsborough. The M&M branch was abandoned in 1926 (I was able to finish tracing M&M branch where it joined in with the Goftstown Branch, with the help of historic aerial photos). The line between Milford, NH and the Greenville Branch (north of Ayer, MA) was abandoned in the mid-1930's minus the short stub in Milford which last into the 1960's.
When was the line between Hillsborough and Bennington last used/abandoned? When was the line between Hillsborough and Contoocook abandoned?
  by ferroequinarchaeologist
>>When was the line between Hillsborough and Bennington last used/abandoned?

>>When was the line between Hillsborough and Contoocook abandoned?
Emerson to Hillsboro, 1942; West Hopkinton to Emerson, 1960; West Hopkinton to Contoocook, 1961.

From Robert M. Lindsell, The Rail Lines of Northern New England, Branch Line Press, Pepperell, MA 2000.
If you have a spare 25 bucks or so, you would find this paperback very useful.

  by Foamer1
I heard that Iowa Pacific (the folks who bought Mass Coastal out) are looking to buy the Milford Bennington Line, or Establish a Lease...I hear Podgurski (the original owner of Mass Coastal) and that Weird Looking Dude Manager Guy with him were up there recently in a hy-rail trip....
  by b&m 1566
I'm aware that Greenville, NH had a fairly long and high railroad trestle not far from the end of the line, is this the same location that someone flew a plane under?
  by Dick H
Just to clarify. PAR owns the line from Milford (actually Nashua) to Wilton.
The state of NH owns the line from Wilton to Bennington. The Wilton Scenic
Railroad ran between Wilton and Greenville. The line is not usable beyond
Greenville State Park Crossing. Not sure if there has been any storm damage
between the pit and Greenville since the Wilton Scenic went out of business,
  by ferroequinarchaeologist
>>I'm aware that Greenville, NH had a fairly long and high railroad trestle not far from the end of the line, is this the same location that someone flew a plane under?<<

Yup. July 1979, Bronson Potter flew his plane under the trestle and had his pilot's license suspended. The stunt was covered in the Peterborough paper at the time. From the picture in the paper, it looked like a Piper Cub or an Aeronca. Having seen the trestle when it was extant, and holding a private pilot license, I can opine that no sane person would take such a risk.

The route was originally planned to reach Peterborough. Depending on the source, the proprietors either ran out of money and ended the tracks a few hundred yards from the west end of the trestle, or it was taken over by competing interests and allowed to stagnate until the Great Depression killed it - or both. Parts of it lasted into the 1970s, 'though.

  by b&m 1566
ferroequinarchaeologist wrote:Parts of it lasted into the 1970s, 'though.
Going by historicaerials.com it appears there was a customer in Greenville at least up to 1963 located where Pilgrim Foods is today. If I understood the article it sounds like the last train to Greenville was a railfan trip in 1971.
  by ferroequinarchaeologist
According to Lindsell's book, freight service to Greenville continued until 1972, with formal abandonment in 1979.

  by arthur d.
Lindsells book is a great reference, lots of detailed information, but it isn't without error's.
If you're going to go around chasing old R.O.W.s, you should also have Ron Karr's "Lost Railroads of New England", also from Branchline Press. (Ron Karr is Branchline Press) Its in its 3rd edition. It contains maps, photo's, statistics and brief descriptions of all the abandoned lines in New England, including the narrow gauge roads in the Maine woods. This book and a road atlas is what you need for a day on the road, and it doesn't bog you down with a lot of extraneous information.
  by b&m 1566
When the B&M ran Worcester to Concord/Concord to Worcester did all the traffic go via Gardner, Peterborough, Hillsborough?
  by TomNelligan
No, that was never a significant route for through traffic, just local business such as it was. In ancient times the Worcester, Nashua & Portland line via Hollis existed as a shortcut to central New Hampshire, but that went out early due to its unfavorable grades, and by the 1920s/1930s timeframe Worcester-Ayer-North Chelmsford-Nashua became the preferred routing for through traffic.
  by b&m 1566
That's what I figured the case was. Were there ever any locals out of Boston that came off the Fitchburg and headed up the line and vice versa?
Last edited by b&m 1566 on Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by TomNelligan
I don't believe either line ever had direct freight service from Boston, although to be honest I'm not familiar with all the details of B&M operations in the early 20th century, so I won't say "never". In the 1940s timeframe the Hillsboro branch was serviced by a local that originated at Lowell, later originating at Nashua as it does today. The Peterboro branch had a Worcester-Gardner-Peterboro mixed train up until 1953.

I did find one interesting routing in an October 1905 passenger timetable. There was a six-day-a-week passenger train in each direction running Winchendon-Peterboro-Hillsboro-Concord, northbound in the morning and southbound in the late afternoon. I'm guessing that it existed for the benefit of people from branchline stations who had business at the state capitol.
  by jaymac
My oldest ETT -- Fitchburg Division No. 61, "TAKING EFFECT AT 12.01 A.M. SUNDAY SEPT. 25 1927 (yes, all caps and period -- not colon -- for the time) -- covers a period into the automotive era, and even then there were mandated interdivision and interline connections that required delays and/or delayed feeder trains to notify the Superintendent. Far fewer appear in my next oldest -- system-wide, No. 10, November 22, 1931. Guesses why include the Hannauer administration reacting to the Depression, increased auto use, and the attempt to make low-volume branch-line passenger traffic even more unattractive.
I'm again guessing that divisional boundaries might have restricted anything other than handing over freight at boundary points, the Hannauer upgrade of the Stoney Brook to include Portland, Southern, and Fitchburg crews crossing boundaries on Rigby-Mechanicville runs, as with Worcester-Mechanicville and Worcester-Portland runs, the last for both passenger and freight. The equalization of hours and pay probably kept the Causeway Street accountants occupied.