• NH connection at Fitchburg

  • 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 jrhart
Its my understanding that the NH used the former OC agricultural branch to reach Fitchburg MA. Generally what sort of traffic was coming onto and leaving the NH at Fitchburg from BM?
  by jaymac
Fitchburg had heavy manufacture -- Putnam Machine (later G.E) and others -- but the bulk was probably paper and textile. A bit further south on the OC, Clinton contributed to the textile traffic with its various mills, as well. Someone with more specific resources and knowledge, particularly in the form of a NH symbol book from 70 or more years ago, could provide more specific detail, as could the NHRTA. The early plastics operations in Leominster contributed to traffic, also.
  by edbear
The New Haven Line to Fitchburg is the Agricultural Branch RR, a portion of the Worcester & Fitchburg and the Framingham Branch of the Boston & Worcester. The Boston, Clinton & Fitchburg took over the property and then it fell into Old Colony hands. The Agricultural originally served as an outlet for area farm towns. The push to cobble together a through route from Fitchburg to the southeast was fueled by the impending completion of a through route trunk line via the Hoosac Tunnel. The other trunk line routes were the Boston & Albany and Boston, Hartford & Erie. The Old Colony got into the picture because it was crammed into a corner of southeastern Massachusetts and pretty much had to interchange traffic to and from the West at Boston. (A good portion of U. S. railroading has always been concentrated to West-East traffic.) A route from New Bedford to Fitchburg opened up interchanges with the Boston & Albany at Framingham and the Fitchburg at Fitchburg. However, the Fitchburg could interchange southeastern New England traffic at Worcester via its Boston, Barre & Gardner. I worked for the Boston & Maine, 1968-86 and for a time did daily interchange reports. Very little traffic was interchanged with the New Haven, later Penn Central, at either Fitchburg or Clinton. The route probably survived until the early 1930s on passenger traffic and local freight. Many of those towns between Fitchburg and Framingham, except Marlboro did not have another direct rail line to Boston and in pre-trolley or auto days, those towns had pretty good sized populations which would generate town to town riding. In 1912 there was a period where a number of through passenger trains ran from Fitchburg and Marlboro into South Station via Framingham. The comprehensive through schedule lasted only for months. However, there was one through train for a number of years and timetables showed good connections to South Station down to the end of passenger service, about 1937. By the 1940s, local freight traffic was declining, especially coal for home heating. (Find where Summit station was in Bolton; there was a coal trestle there.) Then something new came along, plastics. Leominster had a number of companies working on plastics and chemical generally came in by rail.
  by arcadia terminal
I live 150 ft from this line in Leominster and it still sees 2 trains in and out per week, the line now ends in downtown Leominster and they still transload plastic pellets.
As to the B&M connection at Fitchburg I think it was more competitive loading that interchange service as the NH (OC) had a small yard and team tracks next to the B&M tracks down town (the yard is now a shopping mall) and they competed for Paper buisness as the city had several very large paper mills and paper finishing indusrties. The B&M had most of the direct access to these mills as they followed the Nashua River which the mills were on going up the valley.
I would think the advantage the NH (OC) had a more direct access to New York city and New Jersey for routing in that direction.
Sad to say the only Mills (2) left in town use trucks for their raw goods and to ship out finished product.

  by jaymac
Leominster trumpets itself as the pioneer plastics city, with more than a little justification. A visit to Wiki will produce some details. American -- later DuPont -- Viscoloid and Foster Grant, as well as their ancestors, were active in the late 19th and into the 20th centuries. When the Foster Grant Leominster operation shut down in the mid-80s, there were some night-time special moves taking hazmat south on the Fitchburg Secondary.
There's no activity now, but Fitchburg did have a significant textile sector. The cover photo for Images of America: Fitchburg shows fabric inspectors posing at Parkhill Manufacturing Co. Captions on p.57 state that by "...1907, textile manufacturing was Fitchburg's largest industry" and that Parkhill "...was Fitchburg's largest employer." The book is published by the Fitchburg Historical Society.
Given the NH's early-20th century involvement in the B&M, products from both Fitchburg and Lowell could easily find an all-rail or rail-Fall-River-Line-steamer routing to New York City even if the mills were served only by the B&M. Clinton had some convoluted trackage, permitting the possibility of at least some joint access to the mills adjacent to the station for similar routing, even after the grade separation and new station.
  by jbvb
The B&M and NH didn't interchange much at Fitchburg because there weren't a lot of traffic flows that it was convenient for. The NYC would keep freight bound for the NH from the west on the NYC to Springfield, Worcester or Boston. Traffic from the south and west on other roads would move faster to most NH destinations via Maybrook or Greenville - Bay Ridge. I expect most cars interchanged were either moving between B&M-served Fitchburg industries and points on the NH, or between NH customers beyond Clinton and points in Northern New England and Canada.