• Lowell, MA

  • Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.
Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.

Moderator: MEC407

  by Who
I was in Lowell, MA this past weekend and stumble across an old spur off Palmer St, in downtown Lowell. The tracks go down a back alley and I was very intrigued by seeing that. It looks like the very beginning of the spur is part of the Lowell trolley system. What little information I can find, it appears this spur was used to service the Lowell Sun, where was or is that building located? When did the Lowell Sun stop receiving rail shipments?
  by Red Wing
The Lowell Scum I mean Sun was located in Kearney Square, corner of Prescott and Merrimack Sts. I wouldn't want to guess on when they stopped getting paper by rail. I believe they moved printing operations to Devens in the late 90's early 00's. The spur started at the Dunkins on Fletcher St. the rails were paved over years ago but were ripped out this past fall. FYI the Sun has moved to Dutton St. where it crosses the canal.
I'll leave the rest of your question to others.
  by b&m 1566
The Lowell Sun spur was fully intact up until the mid to late 2000's, when the tracks were pulled up at each of the two crossings Shattuck and Palmer streets. I can't say for sure when Lowell Sun stopped receiving paper shipment by rail, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were still a rail customer into the Guilford era. The last active mill in Lowell, was the Lawrence Mills (Lawrence Manufacturing). Lawrence Manufacturing pretty much went out of business after a major fire destroyed 3 of it's mill buildings in March 1987, putting an end to the last big rail customer in Lowell. The Lowell Sun spur just happened to be conveniently located in between the mainline and the Lawrence Mills. If Lowell Sun was still an active customer after that fire, something tells me Guilford did everything in their power, to provide the worst service possible to get them to drop rail service.
  by b&m 1566
newpylong wrote: Sat Dec 03, 2022 7:02 pm http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?20031 ... 517294.jpg
I finally figured out where in Lowell this was taken. To the right and out of frame is Lowell High School, the same iron fence infront of the photographer is still there today. This section of track the train is on, was abandoned in conjunction with the construction of the Tsongas Arena in the mid 1990's, when Arcand Dr was extended to the rotary Infront of the arena. Much of the track remained in place until 2020 when a new athletic center for the high school was built. The west corner of the new building sits about where the engine is located in that photo.
  by caduceus
I was thinking the curve could have been the one right before Suffolk St, which went down to the Lawrence Mills, and the smoke stack seen was part of the Wannalancit complex...but I don't remember it being active at all in '87, and the fence is not there any longer. There is a segment of similar but slightly different fence right by Arcand Dr on the arena side, but I don't remember a track turn there...looking at historicaerials, the topos are very different, and no visible trackage around that time...
  by b&m 1566
The tall building in the distance and the smoke stack line up perfectly with the High School location, only the trees are much bigger today. The curve you speak of by Suffolk St, is missing the Wannalancit Mill behind it. Keep in mind the curve you are thinking of, existed back by the Lowell Post Office, as the track used to S curve around what is now the post office to reach the Lawrence Mills, going through a portion of where Tsongas Arena sits today. Everything beyond the entrance to the Post Office parking lot, down to the end of track by the Wannalancit Mill, was built by the Park service for the trolleys.