• Union Freight, Boston

  • 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 mgdemarco
Hi, there doesn’t seem to be much info on the Union Freight Railroad that ran on the streets of Boston between North and South stations. I am going to order the Railroad that Came out at Night book.

-Any remnants of this line or the spurs? What about the connections to the outside world? Was the rail all removed or paved over in spots? I found one track map online showing numerous spurs onto Commercial Wharft and the area near present day Columbus Park. I have seen the rail still in place on both sides of the Fort Point Railroad bridge, was this Union Freight?
-Are there maps showing all the lines and spurs?
-Did service gradually decline at the end or was it stopped suddenly for another reason?
  by jaymac
The Frank Kyper book will answer most -- mebbe all -- of your questions.
Field reports and/or their translation to mapping -- particularly involving trackage -- can sometimes be less than accurate.
  by tom18287
i believe the center lane of the northern ave bridge used to be for the union RR
  by jbvb
The last visible rail I remember was in Atlantic Ave., along the north side of South Station. As Kyper's book points out, this had been abandoned before the rest of the line: in the final years, only the Northern Ave. bridge to the South Boston yards was used.
My dad used to be a Construction Manager with New England Telephone Company in Boston. His area of responsibility included Causeway Street, Commercial Ave, Atlantic Ave and Northern Ave, as well as all of South Boston. Back in the early 60s I was riding with him on Commercial and Atlantic Aves. The road was in terrible shape with a mixture of cobble stones, hot-top patches and potholes as well as old railroad tracks which looked like they had been abandoned. I asked him why the city didn't pull up those abandoned tracks and fix the streets. I didn't know that was a hot topic back then. He explained that the tracks were still used, but the trains only came out at night. That was problematic for his telephone crews - the telephone trucks would collide with trains in the fog running down the wrong side of the street. Just recently I found a book title on Amazon "The Railroad that came out at Night" by Frank Kyper. I bought a copy immediately. What a great little book. I was stationed at the Coast Guard Base at 427 Commercial Ave. I wish I had paid more attention to the rail activity back then. I do recall where the Union Freight engine house and offices were. I remember seeing a locomotive and box cars parked there from time to time. I also remember the tracks going across the Northern Ave bridge, but I think that was out of service during my time there.