• Old Rail Line Running Through Middlesex Fells Reservation

  • 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 jr747
I've been poking around in this forum for a little while and some people seem to have a thorough knowledge of old rail lines so I figured I'd ask here to see if anyone knew of this line.
When you drive through the entrance of the Middlesex Fells Reservation in Winchester off of Rte 28, you drive under an old bridge. I wondered if this was an onld rail line so I went to this site and pulled up this map from 1946:
and sure enough, according to the map, it was an elevated line. Yesterday, I went over there to see any remenants and I think I saw some old rail ties in the ground but no rail. It is a path that people walk/run/ride their bikes on.
Does anyone know the history of this line? What it was used for? When the last train ran on it?

For some of you rail history buffs, a good site to bring up old rail lines in Massachusetts that show maps dating back to the 40's is http://docs.unh.edu/towns/MassachusettsTownList.htm Click on the town you want to see a map of. It's neat to see all the rail lines that used to run thoughout the state. This site helps me see where the lines used to go and I compare the maps here with the satellite images on Google maps.


  by l008com
yup that old ROW is now jut a public use fire road. You can get maps of the fells on www.fellsbiker.com There are still ties, and there are a few plates in a few spots, but as far as I know, no rails. The bridge you see from Rt 28 is one of three. If you head north on the ROW theres another just like it, then keep heading north and there is a HUGE trestle in there. Its very cool. Just be weary of strange men following you as you walk... that area has 'other' reputations too...

  by bigbronco85
Yeah, the one at the end near 93 is pretty cool, high up in the air. Most people don't realize that one is there.

My dad told me that up until maybe the mid 1950s the line still existed up until Roosevelt Circle, a short time before that the line after that up to Stoneham had been abandoned. He used to ride the trolley once in a while, but he was only about 10.

And yes, be VERY careful in that area. Odd perverted dudes galore, it's even promoted on the net for those reasons apparently.
That's part of the reason why I haven't been to the ROW since I was little, with my dad. A shame because as far as nature and stuff goes, it's a nice area, and the old trolley line is a very interesting thing to explore, I'm even afraid to ride my bike in there.
There are literally butt-naked hikers in there from time to time.
If I were going to check this out again, I'd have to have a group of 10 people with me.

  by eriemike
That was the old Eastern Mass. St. Ry and Boston Elevated Ry. ROW. It started out at the old Sullivan Square Station and ran down the middle of the Fellsway, along the ROW that you found and into Stoneham on Route 28. It ended shortly before you cross the B&M Stoneham Branch. Shortly after you go under the bridge you mentioned above was Sheepfold. The bus garage at Salem St. in Medford, originally was the carbarn for the street cars that ran on the Fellsway.

The BERy would usually bring up an EMSRy car from Sullivan to Sheepfold. At that point the BERy motorman would take the fare box out and an EMSRy motorman would take his place along with the fare box and off he would continue to Stoneham. The line was also known as the "Orange Peril" as there was a head-on collision and several people were killed.

The trip to Stoneham ceased in 1947. After that it ended at Elm St. in Medford and several years later, the whole Fellsway line slipped into history.

  by Gerry6309
The bus garage at Salem St. in Medford, originally was the carbarn for the street cars that ran on the Fellsway.
The trip to Stoneham ceased in 1947.
Almost correct.

The service to Stonehom ended in 1946. It was the last Eastern Mass rail service north of Boston.

The existing building at Fellsway has always been a bus garage. The carhouse was east of this building where the shopping center is now situated. Interestingly, the bus garage fronting only on Salem St. is named Fellsway. The carhouse, with extensive frontage on Fellsway, was named Salem St. Cars operated from Salem St. until 1955 when the remainder of the Fellsway line was converted to bus. Trackless trolleys continued in service from here until 1959, when the 101 line was converted to bus due to construction for I-93.

  by eriemike
Ah-Ha! I knew I was close! Thanks for the correct information. The Fellsway Bus Garage is where my grandfather worked out of in the later part of his career working for the BERy/MTA/MBTA. He retired in 1973. He was a bus driver.
  by Arlington
Thanks for this thread. Why hasn't more been done with this line as part of a large system of N-S bike trails?
  by ferroequinarchaeologist
>>Why hasn't more been done with this line as part of a large system of N-S bike trails?

Unfortunately, the area is dangerous. Probably not the only reason, but you might read the earlier posting by bigbronco85.
  by Arlington
I was hoping that 6 years since the last post here might have been enough time for the creepy characters to have died off / waned, or been pushed out by a new generation of park users. I'd think/hope that bike riding is growing faster as a pastime than odd/creepiness.
  by MEC407
Sounds like heightened law enforcement presence is needed there.
  by tom18287
i think even the cops are afraid to go up there haha. i know a couple guys that went for an innocent bike ride up there and...well.....they won't be going there again.
  by Pete
My apologies if I missed it in reading this discussion so far, but does anyone know in what year this line through the Fells was built? I've seen postcards on Wikipedia that are dated 1909, but I haven't seen a date of opening.