• Dedham Branch

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

  by theseaandalifesaver
I spent a lot of time in the West Roxbury area growing up and still get back here fairly often. My aunt has a house right off the old West Roxbury branch ROW (now all a row of houses, which is WILD). I've tracked a good majority of the ROW in my teens and it's amazing how much is left considering the line was abandoned in the 40's. But I can't seem to locate the ROW around Dedham Center. Or if the old depot still exists. I know much of the area has changed but I find it surprising not much exists of the ROW.

Also, according to Wikipedia, passenger service ended on the Dedham branch in the late 60's. Which is pretty recently in my opinion. If that's the case, why can't I find any pictures of trains in Dedham Center? Can anyone direct me to a place that might exist?

  by dieciduej
Sorry I can't be any help on the photo aspect, but I have been using https://www.openrailwaymap.org/index.php to find the locations of abandoned railroad branches that have been overgrown with housing. I hope that helps a little.
  by MBTA3247
You can't locate the ROW there because it no longer exists. Where the junction had been (and, as far as I can tell from old aerial photos, the station) is now Gonzalez Field. Pretty much the entire ROW north to West Roxbury has been built over, though you can still trace most of it in satellite imagery. There's nothing at all left of the ROW south to Islington, that was abandoned even earlier. Most of the ROW from Dedham Center to Readville is still intact, but has been built over in a number of locations.
  by bostontrainguy
No problem at all. The old depot was located on what is now a soccer field just east of the Boston-Providence Highway (the old Route 1) in Dedham Center. Check out Google Maps. The ROW ran south behind Lowes under Washington Street (through what is now a high wall) and down Cocci Way (obvious on the satellite view). Then it went over High Street on a bridge to the station which was located right next to the old Route 1 in that soccer field.

From there a branch went east to Readville on what is now partly a trail and southwest along what is now the Boston-Providence Highway or old Route 1 to meet the Franklin Branch just south of Route 95/128. It ran behind the motel and Dunkin Donuts.

Not sure if there was a wye at the station site or not but there was ample room for one. Taking a walk along the B-P Highway between Eastern Ave and Mah Way you could see tracks in the asphalt along the parking lots about 10/15 feet from the roadway many years ago. They are still there and they might be visible still but I doubt it. They almost seem visible (or at least hints of them) in the street views parallel to the road just north of Mah Way between the flower bed and the store sign. They ran under that slightly different shade of asphalt which you can kind of see in the satellite view. There was a customer left on the line at this approximate location after the line through West Roxbury was severed (came in from Readville).
  by highgreen215
I have been trying to find the exact location where the Dedham Branch crossed Mother Brook, hoping to find the remains of an abutment or metal pieces. If it was a simple wooden trestle I guess no physical evidence would remain. I have walked beside the waterway as it is next to the parking lot of the Dedham Sports Complex. Just before the Complex building the brook takes a right turn to run under Washington St. I have not located any old maps which could be overlaid over modern maps to pinpoint the brook crossing, and I’m not sure where the ROW is located in relation to the Sports Complex or the nearby incinerator. Any suggestions?
  by bostontrainguy
It ran as a straight line from behind the McDonalds to behind the Lowes. It crossed Mother Brook pretty close to where the existing roadway bridge is west of the Incinerator at the bottom of the hill. I doubt if anything is left of it.
  by HenryAlan
That would have it crossing just about where the Starbucks is, meaning that any remaining physical evidence of the bridge would have been obliterated when the mall parking lot was built. It's a shame that the ROW was lost, I've always thought the Mall would have been a good end point for an Orange Line extension.
  by theseaandalifesaver
Why is it impossible to find any pictures of it at all if it was used up until the late 60'?
  by TomNelligan
theseaandalifesaver wrote: Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:11 pm Why is it impossible to find any pictures of it at all if it was used up until the late 60'?
Probably because service was minimal in later years-- just one weekday rush hour round trip with RDCs -- and the line wasn't very photogenic. But here's a 1963 shot at East Dedham.

  by bostontrainguy
Did I find something cool for you . . .


There is a wonderful vision at the 25 second mark of the video.
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  by bostontrainguy
I have to admit that I am a bit surprised by this photo. In the upper right you can see the railroad bridge I mentioned earlier that crossed high street. At the right you can actually see what is left of the original train station. Only the tower (being pointed at by the "Town Hall Site" arrow although it was never built) is left west of Route 1 and on the other side of Route 1 you can see the remains of the platforms and roof. So it appears that a new Route 1 was built right through the station site. The old Route 1 probably ran through the square. Note the interesting trolley tracks going through the square with single and double track.
Dedham Square.jpg
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  by MBTA3247
Judging from the buses, I'd say the trolley tracks were abandoned by the time the photo was taken.

Interestingly, the foundation for the bridge abutments on the north side of High Street is still there.
  by bostontrainguy
Isn't that a trolley coming south on Washington Street?

Those bridge abutments were removed relatively recently.
  by MBTA3247
Nope, it's bus. It's offset from the rails.
  by highgreen215
Looks like a single trolley track ran right through the traffic circle. Either that or they reserved an easement through the new circle for a track just in case the trolley line was reactivated - there does not appear to be any track there. Until a couple of years ago you could still see (and feel) the ties under Washington St. just south of the the square.