• Rail service to Fort Devens, MA

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by efin98
I know the base is mostly closed but when it was open did the military contract out the movements on or near Fort Devens and if it was contracted out was it handled by the Boston and Maine Railroad?
  by RailVet
At one time, many years ago (probably WW II era), the post probably had its own locomotive. Almost a decade ago, during one of my visits, I found an old building that appeared to be a one-time enginehouse. In later years I believe there wasn't enough traffic to justify keeping a locomotive on hand and it was switched directly by the connecting carrier as required. I do recall seeing an article in an Army publication in the late 1970s that portrayed a predecessor unit to today's 1205th TROB doing some minor trackwork on the post, indicating it was not high priority and it served mostly as a training mission for the reservists.

  by efin98
Thanks for the information

  by efin98
By coincidence I got a photographic answer online to my question here. It looks like Conrail/PennCentral/New York Central were the ones who handled the movements for the post. Probably makes sense, as the Boston and Albany line is a more direct routing east and west and connects with a deeper terminal in South Boston...

  by CSX Conductor
Sorry to bring up such an old thread, but I just checked it for the first time. It is possible that the B&M interchange the equipment with ConRail at either Boston (Near the MBTA's BET) or via the Barber line at Worcester.
  by RailVet
The picture of the Conrail train pulling the flats loaded with tanks probably isn't going to or from Devens. Although I wasn't stationed there, I made a number of visits over the years as a reservist. In the late 1970s the post hosted the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), a combat engineer unit and military intelligence training units - none of which would be equipped with tanks. During one of my two-week annual training stays I had the opportunity to do a lot of walking (land navigation training) over the post's nether regions but didn't see anything that indicated the post hosted armor training.

  by CJPat
While I also wore the green suit in the '80's and '90s, Ft Devans was always known as major home to the spooks and secret squirrel types (I think the MI school was there) as well as the SF Group. I am not familiar with the overall size of the facility. I didn't think it would be big enough to host any armor training grounds (they need alot of room to run). I thought the typical ground training was done more at Ft. Drum, NY (home of 10th Mtn Div). By the late '80s, only the reserves were using the M60's and eventually they were replaced completely.

Down at Ft. Campbell, we used to rely on a local Armored Nat. Guard unit to provide mechanization as OPFOR for training. I am just not aware of Devans having anyone who would utilize that kind of armor even for training support.

Devans' also supported a material testing group that developed new combat uniforms and other associated equipment, but I doubt they did anything that would require a number of tracks. The photo appeared to be a mobilization photo showing a unit being moved out. Down at Campbell, we used trains to move all our wheeled vehicles out to destinations like the National Training Center or 29 Palms (both out in the deserts of California) or even out to the ports in Savannah. I looked at Campbell via Earth Google and it seems that they had expanded their railheads since I left post in '89.

  by Legio X
Almost every post in CONUS has had it's rail facilities upgraded in the past ten years, especially Fort Carson, CO, soon to again be home of the elite 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and the crack 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which was moved to Fort Carson from Fort Bliss, TX, in 1996. By the way, the 10th Special Forces Group was relocated to Fort Carson from Fort Devens back in 1995-96. The rail facilities at Fort Bliss are going to become very busy in the next few years. The hard-fighting 1st Armored Division (Old Ironsides) will be moving to Fort Bliss from Germany in the next few years. Also, the Big Red One- the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) is also coming home to Fort Riley, KS, after spending ten years in Germany as part of V Corps with 1st AD. Fort Riley's railhead has been improved also. Part of Fort Devens was retained for use by Army Reserve units in Massachusetts and elements of the 42nd Infantry Division (Mechanized) organic to Massachusetts- the 26th Brigade of the 42nd ID, which was once the 26th Infantry Division until the force structure cuts of the late '80's-early '90's.

  by CJPat
I found Ft. Dix to be curious. Once it was a significant Basic Training installation (mission ended approx. late '80's) with the standard railhead which was torn up in the '70's. Because of its available barracks, extensive firing ranges, and proximity to McGuire AFB (next door) which is home to the Military Air Command (MAC) and not that far from the Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne (MOTBY), it was a key mobilization point during the first Gulf War in 1991. I would have thought they would have reconstructed atleast part of the railhead to expedite moving equipment to MOTBY. But Desert Storm ended quickly (thankfully).

MOTBY was closed shortly thereafter and Ft Dix's mission was downgraded to a training facility for the Reserves. Because they had recently (1992?) upgraded their Tank Firing Range, I again thought that it would have been smart money to re-install their railhead to supplement receiving flatcars of Armor and vehicles from various Reserve Units conducting their training. No dice. The remaining rails were ripped up even further and the ROW is in a shaky position with all the developing housing popping up.

Although I believe Ft Dix retains its role in support of Reserve Training, most of the fixed facilities are operated by other agencies (other military branches & civilian). They took a section of the Basic Training barracks and fenced them off to make a State Correctional Facility. It's good to know that facilities to house good troops are considered adequate prison housing for scum.

The latest thing I heard about was the BRAC proposition to create a "Super Base" by combining Ft Dix/McGuire AFB/Lakehurst NAES since they are all together in a line. I would expect that under that arrangement, the USAF would be given facility control due to their more significant mission of the area. Only Lakehurst NAES has anything resembling a railhead and that was installed only to support a remediation project that ended 2 years back (removal of possible plutonium contaminated soil from an old BOMARC missile site that suffered a fire in/about 1962). The line lays basically dormant now.

  by kinlock
I checked out Lakehurst on Google Earth. Good pictures, but the rails don't look very active at all.
  by RailVet
Looking at the ARNG forces in New England, I found that Vermont has the 86th Brigade, an element of the 42nd Infantry Division (Mech). It has two tank battalions (1-172rd AR and 2-172nd AR) and a mech infantry battalion. One website notes that Vermont lacks a location where its tanks can fire their 105mm guns, so the photo was quite possibly VT ARNG tanks enroute to a range.

As for Fort Dix, don't look for a new railhead anytime soon. The Army uses a railhead some distance from the post, which is probably less expensive than building, operating and maintaining an active rail line from an interchange point to the post.

  by CJPat
What Railhead is Dix using? Since Lakehurst had their spur rebuilt, it could be be used as a convenient drop point for Dix. The tracks and trucks could run over to Dix using the existing dirt roads on Lakehurst. They would just need a tank crossing (ideally a section of concrete) laid across Rt 539 to get over to the Dix Tank Range.

  by Legio X
The 172nd Armored Regiment has to go to Fort Knox, KY. to train in live-fire tank gunnery. As of right now, the Regiment is still equipped with basic model M-1 Abrams main battle tanks, which have a rifled 105mm main gun and are much less capable than the M-1A1 SEP and M-1A2 models used by the armored and mechanized infantry divisions of the Regular Army and selected Army National Guard tank battalions. I believe they can also go to Fort Indiantown Gap, PA for live-fire gunnery training. FITG is the main training area for the PA ARNG's 28th Infantry Division (Mechanized), the famed "Bloody Bucket Division" of the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest in WWII. There is a phenomenal website for looking into current military affairs, www.globalsecurity.org, which is D.C.-area think tank. You can look up every military post in the U.S., and there is mention of their rail facilities. Some posts have nothing more than a long team track, but most posts that host maneuver units have pretty elaborate rail connections to make deployments to training areas like NTC at Fort Irwin, CA and the JRTC at Fort Polk, LA or combat operations overseas easier. Check out globalsecurity.org for more information. Very fascinating, indeed.

  by RailVet
Here's some information regarding upcoming changes at Dix, McGuire and Lakehurst. There's no indication yet, however, about any future rail development.
Philadelphia Inquirer
December 13, 2005

The Megabase For Military Will Cost Megabucks

Millions will be spent on construction to unite Dix, McGuire and Lakehurst, U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton said.

By Edward Colimore, Inquirer Staff Writer

Hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to be spent in the next decade on construction to foster the nation's first tri-service military megabase, coordinating the operations of McGuire Air Force Base, Fort Dix and Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station, U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton said yesterday.

The New Jersey Republican, who joined base commanders and community leaders yesterday on a tour of the sprawling Burlington and Ocean County site, said the megabase "will not only have Army, Air Force and Navy forces, but also Marine and Coast Guard components."

"It's the true base of the future," he said. "The plans are still evolving, but it is shaping up to be a very significant investment."

New facilities will be needed to receive as many as 47 additional aircraft and 1,000 personnel. The Base Closure and Realignment Commission estimated that alone would cost $108 million - $42.6 million for Fort Dix and $65.5 million for McGuire.

Saxton said the Department of Defense's Future Years Defense Plan also called for more than $150 million in construction at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

"My job will be to go to Washington and try to help fund those projects," said Saxton, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee who has been the chief proponent of the bases. McGuire and Dix are in his district.

Dix is expected to get 1,050 additional jobs and McGuire 779 jobs.

"The bottom line is that we're getting a lot more than we've got" today, said Col. David McNeil, the Dix commander. "We want to embrace it. We are all part of something bigger now."

  by Legio X
I have a correction to make with regard to the Massachusetts ARNG's 26th Brigade. Is was formerly the 26th Infantry Division, until it was cut down to brigade-size in the force structure cuts of the early 90's. It became a light infantry brigade and reflagged as the 26th Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division (Light), the famed "Blue and Gray Division" from Virginia and Maryland, which, along with the 1st ID, assaulted Omaha Beach on D-Day, 6/6/44. This can be found on Globalsecurity.org, along with much other good information. The 42nd ID is made up of it's 3rd Brigade, N.J.'s 50th Brigade and Vermont's 86th Brigade. Since the 42nd ID is a heavy division, it requires more rail transport than the 29th ID with it's light infantry TO&E.