• Cape Cod Canal Rail Bridge

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

  by MNCRR9000
Cool article! Thanks for posting it. Interesting how the whole operation works.
  by Arborwayfan
When did the black-and-white smash boards get removed? As of 1988-ish, the Cape side had a pair of them on a single pedastal between the Hyannis and Falmouth lines just beyond the turnout (probably just beyond the fowling point); when the bridge was open, they stuck out over both lines, and when the bridge was closed they pointed straight up. I spent much less time at Buzzards Bay, but I think there was a matching setup on the other side, with one board hanging over the track and the other hanging over where another track had once been. I only learned what they were called the other day, and today I thought I'd look up a picture of them. I didn't find any, but I did find pictures and videos from the last few years that show the place on the Cape side where they once were.

(Fond memories of three different summers when my grandparents rented a place in Grey Gables for a few weeks and I stayed with them with a bike: watch the bridge and the CC&H trains, walk along the road next to the Falmouth Branch, bike all the way to Pocasset station, bike along the canal and once all the way into Sandwich...)
  by Bill Reidy
The smash boards were gone by the late 1980s or 1990 at the latest. I moved away from the area in 1990, and they had been gone a while by that point.
  by TomNelligan
Here are three shots of mine from the early 1980s that show the smashboards in the open position for a rail movement.

Last edited by MEC407 on Wed Oct 19, 2022 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: unnecessary quoting
  by Arborwayfan
Thanks, Mr. Nelligan. I think the last year I stayed at Grey Gables was 1988 or 1989, so the smash boards could have been gone after that.

I remember that when they came down, they came down fast and bounced back up a little bit before settling.

Great pictures. The two on the Cape side show how much worse the track to Falmouth was in those years, or maybe more to the point how much better the other track was. It was notable right past the turnout: the Falmouth line had less ballast and old ties and was not as well maintained; the line to Hyannis had many, many new ties, notably black and creosotey on a thick layer of ballast.

It was also notable that there was no paved or even filled official crossing near the bridge, so one just had to walk across the track, often across the turnout itself, to get from the parking lot on the one side to the paved bike trail on the other. There was a timber crossing on the Hyannis line maybe a couple of hundred feet inland, with a dirt road leading to the bike trail IIRC, but to get there from the parking lot one would have had to cross the Falmouth line first, and I seriously doubt that anyone ever walked from the parking lot back out the entrance road across the grade crossing of the Falmouth line over to the grade crossing on the Hyannis line and back to the start of the bike trail. I guess it was not exactly a place where trains would blast through without warning :-D but over the years I have sometimes imagined someone setting their foot between the rail and the point and getting it caught when the switch suddenly moved (remote control from Buzzards Bay tower, I suppose, just like the split rail derails).

Oddly enough, I never saw the Cape Codder. I must have been there on several different days when it went by, and when I was at the cottage and heard the bridge horns warning boats that the bridge was closing I would often run over to a little beach from which I could see the bridge, and the Corps of Engineers boats that would go out to stop boat traffic at least on whichever side was upstream at that state of the tide. I guess I just never happened to do that at the right time on a Friday or a Sunday. I didn't know about the Amtrak train until a couple of years later, so I wasn't looking for it specifically. I remember being disappointed the first year; I found the previous year's CC&H timetable, which had several daily trains to Falmouth, and tried to use it to see one at the Grey Gables grade crossing -- but no Falmouth trains were running that year. I think a few did run in future years as connections with the Cape Codder at Buzzards Bay; at least one summer after 1988 there were CC&H trains that met a particular NEC train at Providence or South Attleboro or someplace like that, and then divided or met a train for the Falmouth Branch at Buzzards Bay. I saw them in the timetable but never rode one. Sorry; digression from the bridge....
  by Falmouth Secondary to Otis
Smash boards were still in place July of 1988 being removed sometime after that. The Cape Main & Falmouth Secondary line have undergone extensive rehabilitation over the last 4 years and are in great condition now.

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... ex=3&key2=

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... ex=3&key2=