Oldest abandoned track still in place?

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Oldest abandoned track still in place?

Postby OHanrahan » Wed Jul 14, 2004 5:03 pm

Does anybody have any theories or facts about where the oldest intact abandoned rails are around here?
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Postby TomNelligan » Wed Jul 14, 2004 5:28 pm

Maybe not quite what you were thinking of, but there are trolley tracks that were abandoned in the 1940s and 1950s intact (although embedded to various degrees in pavement) here and there in greater Boston. For example, part of the Waverley loop in Belmont (where trolleys last ran in 1958) can be seen breaking through the pavement near the current passenger shelter.
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Oldest abandoned track still in place

Postby trainsinmaine » Wed Jul 14, 2004 7:43 pm

I haven't any really good answers, but I love your question --- which, to my knowledge, no one has ever asked before. There is a section of embedded track of the B&M's Ashburnham Branch, abandoned in 1936, buried in the pavement of Center Street (Route 101) in South Ashburnham, Mass. There's a little "hump" in the road at that point. It may even be possible to see a little bit of the rails --- I haven't looked in a while.

The Brookside Road trolley crossing on Brookside Road between Athol and Orange (between Rts. 202 and 2A) was fully intact, and fully exposed, until just a few years ago. I don't know whether it was paved over or whether the rails were removed. The trolley line has been gone since at least the early '40s.
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Abandoned Rail

Postby Paul Cutler III » Wed Jul 14, 2004 8:57 pm

This should be easy.

It's the Granite RR in Quincy, MA. It's abandoned, some sections have rail on it, and it is by far the oldest (1820's?). You can take the tour...

If you want more, the next three oldest RR's in New England (IIRC), were the Boston & Lowell, the Boston & Worcester, and the Boston & Providence.

The B&P mainline used to go to East Providence (so as not to offend the city fathers of Providence and make them a "mere waystation on the way to New York"). The RoW is still there and unused south of East Junction in South Attleboro. It's abandoned, it still has rail on it, and it's one of the oldest lines in America (1834-ish).

If you want the "longest abandoned intact RoW with rail", that's a little harder to answer. Probably something that disappeared before WWI? Of course, there's always the intact RoW in the Quabbin...
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Oldest abandoned track still in place

Postby trainsinmaine » Wed Jul 14, 2004 10:06 pm

Intact ROW in the Quabbin? That's a new one on me --- I had thought the "Rabbit Road" was entirely ripped up after the 1935 abandonment.

I stood atop Winsor Dam one fall day in 1965, overlooking the site of Enfield at the height of a long, long drought. The paved highway (Route 21) was still there, more or less intact, along with the remains of a large number of cellarholes --- but there were no rails on the B&A roadbed, which was clearly visible.

You've got me really curious. Where'd you get your information?
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Intact

Postby bwparker1 » Thu Jul 15, 2004 8:10 am

Not sure if it qualifies as oldest but the Lewiston Lower Brnach from Brunswick to Lewiston Maine is intact, grade crossings are paved over in spots but the rails are intact and I would say the strech is 20 miles? ANy one know of anything older that is INTACT for a distance of 15 miles plus in New England?

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Postby NellsChoo » Thu Jul 15, 2004 8:30 am

There are some very old looking rails still intact in West Concord. If you walk them heading towards the Reformatory, they will be to the far left. There are large trees established between the rails and the actual profile of the rails themselves is very square. They look ancient. Not sure which line this really was, as it is next to the old main line...
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Oldest Abandoned Track

Postby eddiebear » Thu Jul 15, 2004 10:37 am

RE: West Concord. The former New Haven Branch to Lowell was split up when Conrail took over the Penn Central and various other roads in 1976. The South Sudbury-West Concord and North Acton to edge of Lowell segments were acquired by the Commonwealth of Mass. but never operated. Last I checked the track was still in place except for a few spots where construction activities have taken place or crossings have been removed. That's 28 years of inactivity. The remaining segments of the NH's Lowell Branch were operated for a while but have all withered away.
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Postby mwhite » Thu Jul 15, 2004 10:52 am

I'm sure it's not the oldest (even remotely), but its a very long line: the Calais Branch from Brewer to Calais Maine. This has only seen the occasional speeder tour for years, and is intact. Unfortunately some are proposing that it be used as a Railtrail (Newspeak for "never to see a train again").

Also, portions of the old Veazie Railroad between Bangor and Old Town are probably sunken in the swamps it traverses. Back in the early 90's, the City of Old Town built a force main from Stillwater to Old Town that went down a long portion of the old railbed (used as a bike trail for years). They dug up whole sections of strap rail and ties! A portion of this track was preserved and is in the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor, as is the last Bangor & Aroostook BL-2.
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Postby Srnumber9 » Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:01 am

A friend of mine told me that he found what is probably abandoned track of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes up near Madrid Village in Western Maine. This is a little unusual case, because the rails and spikes were still in place and in gauge where the trees hadn't shoved them out of line, but the ties were long rotted away. (calling it "track" is a slight exaggeration!)

Scrapping of this line ended in September 1936, so this "track" has been abandoned longer than that.

The best guess was this was a siding that was abandoned in place and overlooked when the mainline was scrapped.
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Postby TomNelligan » Thu Jul 15, 2004 12:14 pm

Interesting topic! So, can anyone come up with a rails-in-place abandoned line that beats that SR&RL trackage from the mid-1930s? Since posting my earlier message yesterday I've been searching my memory banks (for whatever they're worth these days), and the only thing I can add is that fifty feet or so of the New Haven's New Haven & Derby branch survives under grade crossing asphalt on a side road in Orange, Connecticut. But that abandonment only goes back to the late 1940s, and it's just a fragment.

Regarding the Granite Railway, is that original 1820s track or a historical recreation?

Just about everything else that's been mentioned here only goes back to the 1970s or 1980s. There's a *lot* of abandoned track from those decades still in place, like the Ossippee-Conway section of the B&M North Conway Branch, the bulk of the east end of the Central Massachusetts Branch, the Maine Central Mountain Sub., etc.
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Postby bwparker1 » Thu Jul 15, 2004 1:17 pm

I enjoy the posts regarding Rail length as well as rail date. Obviously the MEC Mountain division, but that last saw trains in 1984, so it is a relative new comer. Can anyone come up with intact (minus grade crossings) stretches of rail in New ENgland longer than 15 miles that date prior to the 1970's?

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Postby Robert Paniagua » Thu Jul 15, 2004 2:17 pm

Not to mention, the Greenbush CR alignment in Hingham Square and Cohasset has their original trackage in place all covered with rust and weeds, although that's changing soon for the Restoration of Old Colony Rail service once again.

I don't know if this qualifies but part of the still used Ashmont-Mattapan route has a nearly pavement-covered track at the outer Ashmont busway which eclipses the current track, and a third track at the Milton Mattapan Shuttle Station which was last occupied by freight box-cars until around 8 years ago.
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Postby steveh » Thu Jul 15, 2004 8:24 pm

There are several miles of East Branch & Lincoln trackage which are purportedly still intact in the New Hampshire woods. There is a photo on the Yahoo/NE Loggers group of a gentleman standing in the midst of some very heavy forest -with his hand on a harp switchstand!

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/neloggers/
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Postby Robert Paniagua » Fri Jul 16, 2004 6:01 am

From CharlieV who wanted me to post this, since he hasn't tbeen able to sign up yet.

I don't know if its the oldest in New England, but the track that I suspect wins is the old Eagle Lake and West Branch Logging RR deep in the woods of Maine north of Mt. Katahdin. I actually hiked into the line about eight years ago, and its ALL still there--the track, the steam engines, the rotting box cars, etc. The line operated from I think 1926 to 1933, and was then just left in the woods (it's ALMOST impossible to get to by hiking- its miles from anything). To me this is the oldest track that I know of, and I think it was about 13 miles long.
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