• NOHO to Williamsburg line

  • 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 rodco
I remember seeing lots of remenants of a rail bed and bridge abuttments on my way to UMASS every wek as I traveled down RT.9
There was a rail bed that bordered "Look" park.
I see from some old maps that there was a rail line that went from Northampton, ma to Williamsburg Mass.
What was this line used for? How long ago was it abandoned?

  by ewh
What you see along Route 9 and by "Look Park" are the remnants of the New Haven's Williamsburg Branch. It connected with the New Haven's line to Turner's Falls at Northampton and entered the yard just opposite where the Boston and Maine's Central Massachusetts Branch came in from Boston. (The B&M is the line that went east-west through Amherst and is now the bike trail.) The Williamsburg Branch opened in 1868 and was used into the 1960's. The freight train used to be known by the locals as the Burgy Bullet. The part from Williamsburg to Florence was abandoned in 1962 and the line from Florence to Northampton bit the dust in 1969, the same time that the New Haven's main line down to Easthampton was also abandoned. The line north of Northampton was dead by the 1930's and was scrapped during WWII. The freight house in Williamsburg still exists as part of a lumber yard on the north side of Route 9, just east of the town. Most of the line still exists, although it is very overgrown by trees and brush.

  by TomNelligan
It's the upper end of the former New Haven RR Canal Line, once the New Haven & Northampton RR, which connected those points via a route that followed the early 19th century New Haven & Northampton Canal (relics of which still exist in Connecticut) roughly ten miles west of the current New Haven-Springfield line. The line originally went as far as a B&M connection at Shelburn Falls. It was always lightly used and almost all of it is gone now. Northampton-Florence lasted into the late 1960s; Florence-Williamsburg was abandoned in the early 1960s.
  by BrianS
There is much to be soon around Northampton. Near the VA hospital in Leeds, there are some grades and other relics. Id love to photograph them, but with the new alert for VA hospitals, I guess id have to get some good permission. There are all the bridges along the right of way for the NH from Noho, south. Il post them in NErails

  by DonPevsner
I rode an RDC fan trip over this line in the late 1950's, which was
supposed to go all the way to Williamsburg. Instead, we derailed
on an ice-covered crossing, and I wound-up hitchhiking back to
Northampton; convincing the conductor on a regular B&M train to
honor my excursion ticket back to Springfield; then taking a NYNH&H
train back to GCT. These 45 or so years later, I still remember the
lurch as the RDC came off the rails, as I was standing at the front
window. I never did find out how everyone else got home.

  by BrianS
Please tell me you took some pictures you want to share. I model that area in HO

  by unichris
The portion of the Williamsburg line from Northampton through Florence and Leeds to just north of the Williamsburg line is fully accessible as part of the Northampton area rail trail network.

It's pretty much on the ROW apart from right at rt 5, and up at the Look Park rotary where it detours into the park itself before emerging again along the south side of rt 9 to follow the ROW above surrounding streets.

Some past disputes mean it ends at a pile of dirt just across the Williamsburg line, where a now-paved "goat path" runs down to the street. If one crosses route 9 and heads out of Haydenville on High Street it's clearly visible as a channel of smaller regrowth through the woods on the hillside, and more leading up to the lumber yard can be seen from route 9, there are increasing hopes of opening that, too.

Back at rt 5 in Northampton there's a box car being used as storage by an auto repair place, but it's not sitting on any remnant track. The track configuration in that area changed many many times over the years. The current crossing of route 5 is obviously not a rail remnant but result of a long ago battle with the auto shop. East of rt5 a sidewalk dogleg brings this to trail paralleling the active tracks and behind the Walgreens a newly constructed tunnel
under them to connect to the Mass Central's through truss bridge over the Connecticut River and about 10 total miles of converted rail ROW running through Hadley and Amherst to Belchertown.