East Boston Greenway Rail Trail

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peconicstation
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Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2004 8:17 am
Location: Boston, MA (Eastie)

East Boston Greenway Rail Trail

Post by peconicstation » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:55 am

We are in the process of moving to Boston and took a lease at a new building in Eastie.

I never realized that there is an old caboose parked at the start of a rail trail known as the East Boston Greenway, until we started to explore the area.
You can still spot some rusted track and a bumper along one of the old piers.

What is the railroad history of this ROW ?

Ken

TomNelligan
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 5:43 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Re: East Boston Greenway Rail Trail

Post by TomNelligan » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:07 pm

It was the Boston & Albany's connection to the East Boston docks, coming off the still-active Grand Junction branch. In addition to general freight, up through the 1950s there was a big grain elevator with the B&A logo on it on the waterfront, used to store midwestern grain that came in via the NYC/B&A from Chicago for transfer to ships. I don't have an exact abandonment date handy but the line was active into the 1960s and then traffic dried up.

csor2010
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Location: Transbay Tube

Re: East Boston Greenway Rail Trail

Post by csor2010 » Tue Sep 08, 2015 9:09 pm

Going way back, the Eastern Railroad ran down this route to a terminal at the East Boston waterfront. The mainline was eventually rerouted through Chelsea and Everett to connect to the Somerville freight yards and North Station and is now used by the Rockburyport commuter rail. Not sure how much the Grand Junction and the original Eastern mainline coexisted, but I think the B&M kept the old route active as a freight spur for some time. Here's a photo from the Boston Public Library Flickr page showing the Eastie freight yards when they were still active. At the upper right of the picture you can see the junction between the B&A (which splits to the left) and the old Eastern route (continues straight).

Tracer
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 12:35 pm

Re: East Boston Greenway Rail Trail

Post by Tracer » Thu Sep 10, 2015 10:55 am

peconicstation wrote:We are in the process of moving to Boston and took a lease at a new building in Eastie.

I never realized that there is an old caboose parked at the start of a rail trail known as the East Boston Greenway, until we started to explore the area.
You can still spot some rusted track and a bumper along one of the old piers.

What is the railroad history of this ROW ?

Ken
The original engine house is still there too. I think its now the ymca.

F-line to Dudley via Park
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Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: North Cambridge

Re: East Boston Greenway Rail Trail

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:17 pm

csor2010 wrote:Going way back, the Eastern Railroad ran down this route to a terminal at the East Boston waterfront. The mainline was eventually rerouted through Chelsea and Everett to connect to the Somerville freight yards and North Station and is now used by the Rockburyport commuter rail. Not sure how much the Grand Junction and the original Eastern mainline coexisted, but I think the B&M kept the old route active as a freight spur for some time. Here's a photo from the Boston Public Library Flickr page showing the Eastie freight yards when they were still active. At the upper right of the picture you can see the junction between the B&A (which splits to the left) and the old Eastern route (continues straight).
B&A had 2 tracks on the Eastern, B&M had 2 tracks. What's now the active tracks are *mostly* the B&M tracks, with the Everett Terminal leads and that track buried in the pavement at Chelsea station being realigned remnants of the old B&A tracks. So they only co-ran across the old drawbridge and through the North Station terminal district. One of the reasons the grade crossings in Chelsea never got zapped like so many others that close to town is because the two RR's could never agree on how to split the costs. B&A wanted a smaller share because B&M used it way more for passenger service, B&M wanted B&A to pay more because it was technically the line owner. Hence, that awful crossing cluster persists to this day while the rest of the Eastern main to Beverly has near-total separation.


I think the B&A leg of the wye and Chelsea River bridge were abandoned early (1950's?), but B&A continued serving the waterfront for awhile by backing up onto the East Boston Branch on the B&M route. B&M definitely lasted much much longer there. I don't think Penn Central had anything in Eastie left to serve when they absorbed B&A in '67 and was just doing Everett Terminal and local customers in Chelsea by that point.

Route 1A is elevated instead of depressed like the ROW through Eastie because it was built on stilts over the cut of still-active railyard. May have lasted underneath to the early 70's before it was filled in to street level under the 1A decks and paved for the parking lots currently there. Whole works used to be way, way wider including the thru tracks. The embankments on the sides where they built the new Massport haul road were gradually filled in with new dumps of fill to support the crumbling retaining walls framing the ROW...a deferred maintenance move. Scoop out the old embankments and build new retaining walls at their old footprint and you've pretty much got a ROW width identical to South Boston where Track 61 fits right next to the Southie Haul Road.


East Boston Branch is still OOS to the Global Petroleum facility with Pan Am still having reactivation rights. Tracks buried in the weeks don't end until the self-storage facility just shy of Chelsea St., but there's no potential business past Global or the mini-yard right next to Global.

The EGE
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Location: Waiting for the N Judah

Re: East Boston Greenway Rail Trail

Post by The EGE » Thu Sep 10, 2015 3:28 pm

The drawbridge over Chelsea Creek burned in 1955, though formal abandonment wasn't till around 1970. There are actually still rails in the pavement of Eastern Ave:

Image

I don't have a good shot of the Chelsea station rails (buried somewhere on an SD card) but they're actually gone due to SL Gateway construction. Not a loss of any real historical merit, but one less sign of what once was. The busway will now be occupying the old B&A track slots.

Image

(My images, freely licensed under CC-BY-3.0 on Wikimedia Commons)

F-line to Dudley via Park
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Location: North Cambridge

Re: East Boston Greenway Rail Trail

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Sep 10, 2015 4:46 pm

The B&A wye leg did have customers on it into the Conrail era, so that stayed active for some time as a siding after the bridge went out. There used to be more gas tanks on the big Eastern Ave. parking lot abutting the river. Per Historic Aerials there was a freight siding along those tanks reachable by crossing that Eastern Ave. grade crossing, going to the bumper post where the drawbridge used to be, then reversing onto the siding that ran alongside Eastern Ave. northbound. Appears it disappeared sometime between 1968 and 1973. By '78 the stub was cut back a couple blocks behind Eastern Ave. to another backup-move siding into the factory that used to be wedged snug in the middle of the B&A/B&M split. Picture is grainy, but looks like there may be a couple cars on the siding. Chelsea station opened in '85, the factory wasn't demolished until sometime between 1995-2000, and if they kept the B&A track intact through the Chelsea platform that had to mean the stub was OOS as of '85 and held for future reactivation with formal abandonment paperwork not yet filed. There was definitely no train that ever used those tracks through the platform, so that would narrow end-of-service on the B&A stub to 1979-83 and formal abandonment and severing of the B&A tracks past the 2nd St. runaround to not long after 1985.

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