• Danvers MA rails about to be pulled

  • 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 highrail
Another piece of history is about to bite the dust. I have received word that virtually all the existing rails in Danvers, all of which have been out of service for several years, are about to be pulled as part of the development of, what else, another rail trail. The MBTA, which owns the rights of way, has given the green light for the removal. Some of the rails from Danvers square toward Topsfield have already been pulled. This section had been out of service since at least the late 70s. I have mixed feelings, for although I like rail trails, it seems a waste to destroy what could easily be a connection for local transit via a light rail, or trolley. At any rate, I photographed the entire line today from the Peabody trestle to the bridge at route 114. I also covered the downtown area around the old station. I will post a few shots in the next day or so. A gem of a discovery was an old cement milepost on the Topsfield line, just outside the square, which had the notation: “N 21” and “B 19”, which likely meant Newburyport 21 miles and Boston 19. If I am not mistaken I think the mileage to Boston was measured via Wakefield junction not Salem. A couple of the old schedules that I have seen showed the trains to Boxford and Georgetown as being routed via Wakefield.

I found it ironic that as I was doing the photos downtown the rail trail folks were about to embark on a walk to survey the trail.

Most of the line has recently had the brush heavily cut by the local electric utility, so visibility is good, so get your shots before the vegetation grows or the rail pullers arrive! I might add that most of the right of way is brutal for an off road bicycle, but you can easily walk most of the line. The Peabody end was the least cleared and worst to get through.

I remember this being quite an active line when I was a kid, with at least one long train each day coming in from Salem serving the many industries along the way. At the end the train came from Wakefield as the trestle over the river at the Peabody line was out of service.

Stay tuned
  by b&m 1566
Is this going to become a dirt trail or a paved bike path?
  by Madjack
I was on Pine St in Danvers last month and was surprised to see the town DPW was removing and stacking the rail roadside.
  by tom18287
its too bad, i never got to see this line operate, and always dreamed of seeing a train cross rt 1, but it looks like thats never going to happen.

as much as i dislike railtrails, if the line was ever going to be used again, it would have to be rebuilt anyway. it might as well be doing something.
  by Badandy
Madjack wrote:I was on Pine St in Danvers last month and was surprised to see the town DPW was removing and stacking the rail roadside.
this stacked rail and hardware(and fork truck) were put on a truck and taken away this past
week. don't know the name of the removal co. all i know is that they all wore fluorescent
green t-shirts. the remaining trackage in danvers looks in better shape than the line
in wakefield does. you watch........eventually down the line, those NIMBYs are gonna
ask for some sort of rail transportation because they need it and that they have the room.

ps who's gonna walk all the way to new hampshire on this trail? bad
  by tom18287
the company was "iron horse preservation society"
  by Madjack
The track in Peabody also looks in good shape. This line was done when a Guilford train struck a car crossing RT1 on a return trip from Eastern Seaboard back in 1997.

The train would stop on the northbound side of RT1. The crossing lights and bell were were activated, then the engineer would blow the horn until the traffic on the northbound side would stop. Once the northbound traffic was stopped the train would move across the northbound side to the median strip. The crew would then stop in the median strip, sound the horn and wait for the traffic on the southbound side to stop. Once the southbound traffic was stopped the crew would go the rest of the way across.

On the day of the accident traffic on the southbound side was stopped, the train started across, then someone decided to go down the breakdown lane and try to beat the train across.

The train T-boned the car and pushed the car down the tracks into the woods. The highway was shut down for the better part of the day while the accident was investigated.

I do not believe the beer train crossed RT1 after that incident.
  by tom18287
it seems like the big g was looking for a way out anyway.
  by JCitron
That name Ironhorse Preservation sticks in my crop. If that isn't an oxymoron. what isn't!

I remember when both lines into Danvers and up to Topsfield were active. In the 1970s - 1980s you'd see strings of tank cars near the trestle where the line paralled and ran under route 128, and there was action from the chemical company near 114 and all of the those little distributors in the industrial park behind MacDonalds. Near Danvers square there was a cement company that got hoppers, and the tracks continued up to Topsfield center where the yard usually had an array of boxcars. There was even a local switcher there for awhile that probably served the whole branch. This was of course long after the line was abandoned north to Georgetown, Boxford, Newburyport, and Bradford (Haverhill). That happened in the 1940s and before; long before I was even thought of. The line operations came to a halt after Guilford had really dug in their grips and started chasing away business. I remember the southern end of the branch having trees growing out of the tracks that were so big that one of the punchered a fuel tank on a locomotive.

Again this the fault of the NIMBYs and their influence on the towns. Instead of thinking forward with transportation projects, they'd rather rip up the tracks and make sweet quiet walking trails for their little kiddies to ride on.

Oh, I forgot. This "rail presevation company" will likely leave old historical markings, repaint buildings, and gentrify the area. Afterall, they want the public to remember the line as a walking trail and pseudo museum, and not the fact that this was a transportation network that was quite vital to the area at one time, and could still be so if some effort was put into keeping it that way.

  by Badandy
think of it
Salem switcher 1, Salem switcher 2 to SA-1
SA-1 to BO-1
BO-1 to LA-1, LA-2
LA-1, LA-2 to NA-1
get the picture? just a matter of time!
  by MikeVT
I dont think you will see a working and profitable line pulled to become a rail trail. At least conversion to a rail trail does conserve the ROW.
  by Badandy
highrail wrote:I have posted a couple photos from the journey along the line. More to come.

http://photos.nerail.org/show/?order=by ... highrail55
i've been living in danvers for over12 yrs. never seen the milepost near the sq. i've walked
the row many times. where, in relation to danvers center, is the milepost located?