I remember the Union as a kid. Atlantic Ave. between South Station and Rowes Wharf was our route that we would walk, my mom, cousins, and myself, on our way to the Nantasket boat at Rowes Wharf. We would pass by a lot of the Union Freight operation at that time. They have been dubbed "the railroad that only came out at night", well, that just isn't true, although I have to acquiesce that my memory usually has them idling along small yards off Atlantic Ave. or street running with just a GE 44-tonner and no freight cars. Perhaps it is true after all. Maybe I was seeing the prep or finish up. Anyway, an avid track watcher even then, one thing that struck me was the incredible uneveness of the track that the UFRR ran upon. It was in a commercial area which saw a lot of hard wear and tear with trucks, buses, and autos, so the pavement was potted, crumbling, and sunken in many areas. Over time, the track just followed the countour of the pavement, what with no repair and continuous pressure of 44 tons on it. Even today, it seems incredible to me that their equipment did not derail. I know that the reason that it didn't was the fact that they operated at about 5 MPH. There were rail ends that not only didn't meet up but had as much as an 8 inch gap. The angles of connecting rails would differ radically. Rail would often rise above on the opposite end of a locomotive as a counter to the loco's weight. The company had all the "fly by the seat of your pants" approach as did a backwoods South Carolina logging operation.
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Paul Joyce passed away in August, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion at railroad.net.