• Salem Harbor Branch

  • 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 RenegadeMonster
Digging around today I found a listing for Salem Harbor Branch on Wikipedia, but there is no article / information listed about it.

It does exist on this MAP I found when searching on Google: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewe ... 1-53c&z=17

Looks like it split off the main line of the Eastern south of the Beverly draw bridge and north of the Peabody Branch and went to the Salem Harbor.

I haven't been able to find anything else useful on Google.

When was this branch constructed and when was the last time It saw service.

Do any remains of the branch line exist that can be traced? I'd be interested in trying to find it if anything still exists.
  by The EGE
Oh wow, I created that map probably 8 years ago.

The branch to Phillips Wharf was built in 1850 by the Salem & Lowell Railroad (which actually used trackage rights on the Essex RR between Peabody and Salem). The S&L was operated by the Lawrence & Lowell, which was loosely associated with the B&M for part of the 1850s. The Boston & Lowell leased both the S&L and L&L in 1858 to keep its monopoly on Lowell service; this also gave the B&L access to a second good port.

In the 1870s, the B&L developed Phillips Wharf as a coal wharf to supply the Merrimack Valley. A second parallel wharf, the Philadelphia Wharf, was built in 1873 by the Philadelphia & Reading Coal Company (a subsidiary of the Reading RR). Salem was by that point otherwise declining as a trade port because of the shallow harbor; despite attempts by the Reading to revive it in the early 1900s, it ceased use as a coal port around 1916.

A short spur was built (probably in the 1880s) along E Collins Street to Lathrop Street, where railroad shops were located. I don't believe the spur ever extended to the gas company property. That spur was gone by the 1940s, possibly earlier.

Beginning in 1924, the Tenney company filled in the space between the wharves and surrounding mud flats to build a new coal-fired power plant. For the next 25 years, the improved site served primarily as a coal transload facility; the power plant was not built until 1950. The branch appears to have been abandoned not long after.

In 1996, the Peter F. Tracy walkway opened on most of the old branch. A park occupies the section nearest the power plant (which was replaced by a smaller natural gas power plant last year).
  by RenegadeMonster
Great info.

Thank you.