• Framingham and Lowell Branch

  • Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
  by Flange Man
Thanks David for the update. The rail trail is on its way. This past weekend I drove the line near rt 27. The ROW has now been paved for the bike path. In a way it's sad to see the old tracks ripped up.

I do remember that Deck Homes would get bulk head flat car shipments. There was not a spur so you would be able to see the cars set out while driving over crossing.

It is hard to imaging 80+ car frieght trains ever using the line. That unfortunately was before my time.

Just to share a different perspective on the line. There was one home owner that I spoke to who's house is near the tracks. She was an elderly lady and lived in the area most of her life. She mentioned that many of the trains would run at night. She told me that her Uncle use to work on the line back in the steam days. She told me it was much different back then and you could set your clock to when the trains would pass. She told of a time when she and her Uncle rode in the caboose going to Lowell then rode in the engine from Lowell back to West Concord. She mentioned how friendly the crews were and would often wave when the trains would pass by. She said sometime the conductor would throw candy from the caboose to the children near the west Concord station. She also made it point to tell me when she was very young she would see many hobo's on the trains going to Lowell.
  by davidp
Here's a picture of Conrail GP-9 7272 crossing the B&M at West Concord in 1982. The unit is actually pushing sister GP-9 7319, two boxcars and a caboose, en route back to Framingham after having made a delivery in North Acton. Her New Haven heritage is showing in the orange paint bleeding through PC black.

  by Flange Man
Dave thanks for posting the photo of the conrail era action at W. Concord. It looks a lot different now. The station is still standing and has just been recently painted. There is a breakfast restaurant there so you can check out the inside of the station. I have a photo somewhere taken in the 80's of a GP crossing over RT2 in Concord. I can imagine the back up that would cause now.

I came across a few more photos of BL1 and LB2. These are some great photos taken by Don Haskel

New Haven Era
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 327&nseq=0
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 329&nseq=0
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 694&nseq=0
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 102&nseq=1

PC Era
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 080&nseq=2

If anyone has any other photos to post it would be great to see them.
  by lpspikesr
please excuse my gramma,I really should have paid more attenron in school, but the line was a very busy one up till the late sixtys I workd for the man who was the gatwkeeper on rt27 and had to help him many times to stop traffic the guards at mciconcord became concernd with the kids playing on the switch engine so had it removed, b-m sent an engine out to tow it away it head'g towards west concord that was last I saw of it, I did have a friend who had hopes of reviveing the line and was in the search for customers when he died there is the old porthsmouth shipyard engine sitting off weatherbee street in another friend of mines yard, I do not suggest you enter johns yard as he has a working truckking company working out of it with a very nasty german sheapard watching over everything, when terry passd away his wife got everything includeing that old engine so she had her mechanic go down and get it running it will run ok but the generator will not work so they can not move it the mechanic can fix engines not the generator to power wheels so there it sits john moves it by pushing it with his loader when it is in his way there is another in grafton if you really want to see one but have no idea who owns it but have seen smoke comming out stack so know it runs or at least they had it running when I drove by don greenwood and his sons keep the row thru westford pretty clear as don has allways lived there and likes to look up tracks and see them clear, I was surprised to see they got railtrail as when I was in a rehab I was following a story where they wantd to make a commuter line out of it and as railtrail would have to cross rt27, rt2a and a verybusy rt2 plus a very active commuter line in west concord, there used to be a tower in west concord that I presume controlld the train intersection there - there used to be three active lines from boston to fitchburg, I do not think there was double tracks on west concord bridge they tore it down as it was near falling down and to many kids were playing on it the missing track beyond wicks was cut up for scrap by local scrap dealer for those with an interest the old foundaton for the old turntable in s acton is a hundred yards or so north of trestle over brook on line from acton to maynard it is not very hard to find, I grew up in that area so used to play in it, it is a cement circle a couple of feet deep maybe 30 or 40 feet across but it is still there as of five years ago anyway
  by yovinnie
From the "for what it's worth files"

The diamond was taken out in the winter of 82/83, the truss bridge over the assabet was taken out that spring. There was a fatality of a High School student falling off of it and the town wanted it removed immediately.

I went to summer camp in West Concord during the mid 70's and I recall vividly that the northbound would come through almost always during our "second swim" which was around 2PM. The camp was located on the west side of the line between Williams Road and Powder Mill road. Power in the PC days was 3-4 units, U25's, GP30's GP9's RS3 what ever 4-axle power worked out of the Dover Street/Readville/Framingham area could be found on the line.

Here are some shots of BL-1 making its way through West Concord:

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20061 ... ODE=&POYE=


http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20051 ... ODE=&POYE=


http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20051 ... ODE=&POYE=


Trains during the mid 70's would routinely run between 65-85 cars, almost always had a green NC5 type caboose on the tail end. Often the train was held back at Williams Road, until they had clearance from Waltham Tower over the diamond, this was to prevent the Old Marlbourough Road and Williams road crossings from being blocked. I recall that there was a fishtail semaphore just south of Williams road, that would have been just out of sight from the car window crossing the tracks, but if you walked past the curve it was there. The other fishtail was just north of Route 2 and If any had been over that crossing in the day I'm sure you remember it.

Here are some of the PC local,

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20051 ... ODE=&POYE=


http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20051 ... ODE=&POYE=


When PC became Conrail, very soon after the line was severed right at the route 110 crossing in Chelmsford (MP25 or was it 26?). The B&M took over servicing customers on the north end of the line, the last one of which was Interstate Container. In the 80's the north end was further clipped back at he Industrial Avenue crossing about the time the Wang Tower was constructed.

Pics Below show the Wye in Lowell, the train was on the east/south leg that came in right at the tower, the track at right connected at the north end of the "new side".

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20031 ... ODE=&POYE=

One more night shot at Interstate Container in the winter of 1987

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20040 ... ODE=&POYE=

The switch at right led to a track that I can not recall by name, but at one time crossed right over the Bleachery interlocking ( I was standing on the abutment taking the photo) and connected with the Lowell Branch of the B&M just west of the Concord River. There was a connection on the west/north end was referred to as the Hill track (where the train is) connected with the oil track(wher the CSX box is) in the Bleachery Interlocking that paralleled the SB track and became the New Yard Lead south of the interlocking at Gorham Street(Bleachery)

Here is pic of a B&M switcher on that connection

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20040 ... ODE=&POYE=

Service by Conrail lasted until the time the diamond was removed, as far as Wicks Lumber in North Acton, the other late Conrail customer was Acorn Structures just north of the Rte 2 Crossing. During the final months of service under Conrail, the line was served on Tuesdays and Saturdays

When the diamonds were pulled in West Concord, service was transferred to the Springfield Terminal who trucked in a Track mobile that was used between West Concord and North Acton and what I rceall was service on the northern portion of the old NH Armory branch (Hazardville branch).

In the summer of 1986 the line was transferred to the Bay Colony who used former Dansville and Mt Morris 44 toners 410 and 411 to operate the line, service was twice weekly as I recall. I believe the 411 was the last unit to service the line, it was kept on the property at Wickes Lumber when not in use. Pics below show the BCLR shoving across Rte 2 and AY-4 on the interchange track in West Concord.

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20031 ... ODE=&POYE=

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20031 ... ODE=&POYE=
  by Flange Man
Those are some great photos of the line during it's use from the PC era and later. Thank you for posting them as well as providing additional insight to the operation of the line. Again it is hard to imagine looking at the line today that 85 car freight trains were ever on the line. Here are some photos that I came across that shows how overgrown the line has become since its abandonment. I did remember reading a study that was being conducted by the Mass Dept of Transportation on the usability of the line for possible commuter service. It was a preliminary study, which never ended up going anywhere.



Does anyone have any information as to when Carlise Station (which was in Westford / just off Rt 27) was removed? I know there is what seems to be a foundation left, but it is pretty over grown.
Does anyone know where the actual connection to the old Nashua & South Acton RR was made? From the maps it looks like it was just south of Rt 27 in Acton. I know the N&SA RR was abandoned in the 30's so there may not be much evidence of the connection.

If anyone has any interesting stories from watching trains on the line or interesting tid bits please share. For some of us that all we have to go on since the line was abandoned before our time. Also any additional photos would always be welcome.

I want to thank everyone for their contributions to this thread. It is very informative and great reading.
  by Lincoln78
My thanks as well. I grew up nearby and watched this line from about 1967-78 during trips along 2A and to the shopping/medical hub of West Concord. I appreciated the "Whistle Stop" sign

I only remember seeing two trains, both northbound, probably in the 68-72 timeframe. One was in West Concord, awaiting the signal to cross the B&M. The other was along Rt 2A between 2 and 27. I don't recall thinking that it was moving very slowly (my reference would have been freights through Lincoln on the B&M). Not certain if there were any grade crossings between 2 and 27.

I was in West Concord earlier this month for the first time in about twenty years. Evidence of the junction is largely gone, although one tracks diamond is mounted in concrete to the south of the former diamond with a few park benches. A memorial stone notes that at its height the junction saw 150 trains a day. Wish I had that time machine...

I appreciated the "Whistle Stop" sign on one of the pictures. The depot now has a small cafe.
  by Flange Man
Here is an intersteting article on the lease agreement on the line.
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-fr ... 838B699FDE

Here is a plan back from 1987 for the bike path. The earlier sections have some interesting history about the line as well as the line characteristics.
http://www.sudbury.ma.us/documents/dl/3 ... udbury.pdf

Some photos

The stained glass on West Concord Station.
http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20061 ... ING=colony

The new rail trail
http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20090 ... ING=lowell
  by Noel Weaver
During the last summer of the New Haven Railroad the through freight job from Boston to Lowell and return had the last set
of Alco FA's and FB's on it on a regular basis. I don't remember just what time this job went to work in Boston at that time
but I used to see the units at Dover Street on a regular basis.
After Penn Central took over, the Alco's were moved around elsewhere and thus the EMD's that are in the interesting photos
previously posted.
Noel Weaver
  by davidp
[quote="Flange Man"]Does anyone know where the actual connection to the old Nashua & South Acton RR was made? From the maps it looks like it was just south of Rt 27 in Acton. I know the N&SA RR was abandoned in the 30's so there may not be much evidence of the connection.

The connection was at North Acton station, which was at the end of Harris Street in Acton. There's no real evidence of it today other than remnants of a siding. Note that if you're planning to walk the track its best to park at NARA park and enter from the Rte 27 crossing as access from Harris Street is blocked by private property. I've read that when the Old Colony and NA&B where both in business they each maintained one of two tracks from Concord Junction to North Acton.

  by eddiebehr
I haven't been here for a long, long time. Here's what I know about the Framingham and Lowell branch. I rode it in 1967 on one of those Nelson Blount excursions using CPR#127. The train came out of Providence and used a set of commuter cars, mostly American Flyers. The NH maintained this line in fairly good condition and there must have been a very favorable rate division to have the road keep this line going for so long. There was very little on-line business; most traffic was B & M interchange at Lowell.
I do remember at least one potato train. Late one Fall we went for a Sunday ride to Little Tree Farms on Pleasant St., Framingham (Route 30). This is right by where the Lowell Branch crosses the Mass. Pike. I was probably 14 or 15 at the time (1958-1960) and bored. I heard an airhorn blasting for crossings and eventually one of NH's Alco road-switchers showed up pulling a string of STATE of MAINE reefers. (I worked for the Boston and Maine 1968-86 - in the office-and whatever remained of solid trains of potato traffic went through Worcester and there weren't many of them. Penn Central killed off that business.)
I have 1890 and 1893 Official Guides and for a time there was a through train from Concord, NH to New York via the Nashua-West Concord route. There was also a NY-Portland day train via Mansfield and Framingham about 1910.
The Nashua, Acton and Boston contracted with the Framingham and Lowell to build its single track line beside the F & L main line between North Acton and Concord Jct. As far as I know, the only physical connection was at Concord Jct. From what I can determine the F & L owned the line. I've been told the junction at North Acton was opposite where the Wickes Corp.
Several passenger trains detoured on the Framingham and Lowell branch. I think it was after the two big 1954 hurricanes, Carol and Edna - not sure which one - the Washingtonian went via this route. In 1955 the State of Maine came south in broad daylight after Hurricane Hazel. There was flooding somewhere, don't know if it was on the WN & P or P & W.
Two of my younger brothers, a neighbor kid and I used to bike up to South Sudbury from the north side of Framingham on days off from school or during summer. We used to catch B & M's two car Hudson-Boston train. Like clockwork, about 15 minutes later, the NH's local freight to Lowell would show up. Business at South Sudbury in 1959-1960 was Suburban Propane and a public delivery track.
  by Flange Man
Thank you for all your input on the F&L eddiebehr. I do remember reading that there was a steam excursion that was run on the line as well as a Maine Potato train. It was very interesting to read of the thru passenger trains and special moves made on the line. This was well before my time. Your contribution is very interesting. I am left with only my imagination, photos and stories from people whom experienced the line during its operation. I have walked almost the entire line, before the bike path came along. Looking at the rails, it was clear that the NH put some money into maintaining the line. Even after all those years, the rail looked to be in good shape.

I was talking with someone recently who told me that at one point many years ago Conrail considered opening up the line to interchange traffic with Guilford. As we all know, they went with the Guilford connection through Ayer. They were even preliminary studies conducted on the line.

I want to thank everyone for sharing their stories and photos of the F&L line. Anyone with any other information regarding special moves, photos, etc please share. It is very interesting to read.
  by davidp
[quote="Flange Man"] I was talking with someone recently who told me that at one point many years ago Conrail considered opening up the line to interchange traffic with Guilford. As we all know, they went with the Guilford connection through Ayer. They were even preliminary studies conducted on the line. quote]

I find that a little surprising in that the line was never owned by Conrail. It was left out the original system by USRA, and bought by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. By the time Conrail began operating it under state contract, the section from Chelmsford to Lowell had been severed, which would have made restoration of through operation very expensive compared to alternative gateways like Worcester, Springfield or Rotterdam Juncton.

  by Flange Man
I was surprised as well to hear that conrail had considered opening the line again at one point (late 80's - early 90's). I agree a considerable amount of work would have been needed to rehabilitate the line. I guess it was considered before the Worcester to Ayer line was reactivated by Guilford. Since that line needed much less work it was chosen. This was at the time when North East traffic was being handled by Selkirk and less out of East Deerfield. The person who told me about it did not say how serious conrail was on opening the line again. My bet is that it was not a serious consideration due to the amount of work required and buying back state land.
  by MaineCoonCat
Would anyone here be able to pinpoint the location of the North Sudbury (not to be confused with the "Sudbury", "South Sudbury" or "Sudbury Union") Station? I've "narrowed" it down to the vicinity of the Pantry Rd. crossing. But was it timetable north or south of the crossing, and which side of the track? The photo's I've seen don't help me much.