• 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 MBTA3247
 
I don't believe the path across the traffic circle had anything to do with the trolleys. In both that photo (which is apparently from 1947) and the 1938 aerial shot on Historic Aerials, there are crosswalks visible connecting that path to the sidewalks outside the circle. Furthermore, the path is slightly kitty-corner to the alignment of Washington St on both sides. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the trolley line was converted to buses because of or before the highway was built through there.
  by StephenB
 
Growing up in Westwood in the late 1960s to 1970s, our family drove through Dedham Square a lot to shop at the then new, Dedham Mall as well as go to my grandparents' house in Milton just past Readville so I have something of a memory of this area.

By circa 1968, I can recall an old, brick factory/warehouse building along Rt. 1 northbound possibly where Petco is today, just south of Mah Way (or maybe it was just north of Mah Way, where the small shopping plaza with Benjamin Moore is.) It had a rail siding in front of it with a rail loading dock parallel to Rt. 1. We used to come up Rt. 1 north to Mah Way (never knew the name of this road) then on to Eastern Ave. and we used to bump over the tracks turning onto Mah Way. I am quite sure in my first years there (66 to 69) there was occasionally a box car sitting in front of that building. For some years the tracks ran north through the parking lot of what appears now to be a Benjamin Moore store. In Streetview, https://www.google.com/maps/@42.2453759 ... authuser=0 one can still see a hint of the rails, which must have been buried. The orphaned rails ran prominently through that parking lot for years and years before disappearing at some point.

In 1992 I recall seeing some rail ends sticking out of the landscaping in front of the Papa Gino's a bit further south along Rt. 1 Those would be remnants of the rail that once ran south to Islington before Rt. 1 was built which the earlier-mentioned siding aligned with.

The area where the soccer field is was a tired rail road yard area for years through at least the 1970s and maybe into the early 80s. I can recall a high level rail freight platform in there beyond the RK building (once Child World.) I also recall some abandoned barrels or something on that wooden platform. There may have even been a few box cars or other freight cars sitting nearby there for some time too back then, but cannot be sure.

I do recall, as we drove up Whiting Ave, there were old businesses backing up to the rail line running to Readville, including a very sketchy (to my 8 year old eyes) "Metropolitan Coal Company" coal depot, with several open coal bins along an unpaved, very weedy truck parking lot. (Circa 404 Whiting Ave.) After that, we'd turn north onto River St. and pass under the iron RR bridge that for years bore the last livery of the New Haven Railroad. That bridge slowly rusted, but did manage to last until maybe 20 years ago (a very rough guess as I wasn't passing through there much by then.)

At the time, of course I had no idea what history was slowly fading away before my eyes even though the construction of Rt. 1 through Dedham had already done a lot of damage.

Looking at the traffic paralysis that Dedham routinely puts up with from Rt. 128 to West Roxbury, nowadays I wonder if people still consider the construction of Rt. 1 in what I think was the late 1930s to be worth it. The town center was just about wiped out as it once was.
  by Arborwayfan
 
I grew up in Roslindale in the 70s and 80s, and I remember there still being tracks at the old station site until the soccer fields were built (mid-80s, maybe). The idea of a high-level freigh platform made of wood rings a bell, too. I can't remember specifically if there was a wye, but I am pretty sure there were at least curved tracks along one or two sides of where a wye would have been. I also remember the spur heading south through the parking lots. I have no memory of any active tracks.

In about 1991 I walked most of the ROW from near Readville to the fill by Dedham High School. There was still rail all the way; the fill was built over the rail IIRC. There seemed to be one last customer on the line down towards Readville, just at the spot where we got onto the ROW (by a bridge or by a grade crossing, I can't remember). Didn't walk the active part of the line. Also didn't walk all the way to the fill because of the best crop of poison ivy I ever saw in Mass.
  by HenryAlan
 
I moved to Roslindale in the mid-90s and also remember seeing the track through the parking lots. I'm not sure when it disappeared, but I'm thinking it was as recent as the construction of Legacy Place.
  by highgreen215
 
The present day white building by the buried ghost track was the headquarters of Fisher-Churchill, a coal/fuel oil dealer. I seem to recall a pair of raised fuel oil tanks at the end of the building. Fisher-Churchill is still in business in a small cinderblock building in East Dedham - they installed my gas furnace a few years ago. In their office are a few old b&w photos of the old site from the early 1900s - unfortunately not much to see of the railroad except one photo that had the multi-track Dedham Branch bridge in the background.
  by bostontrainguy
 
highgreen215 wrote: Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:08 pm The present day white building by the buried ghost track was the headquarters of Fisher-Churchill, a coal/fuel oil dealer. I seem to recall a pair of raised fuel oil tanks at the end of the building. Fisher-Churchill is still in business in a small cinderblock building in East Dedham - they installed my gas furnace a few years ago. In their office are a few old b&w photos of the old site from the early 1900s - unfortunately not much to see of the railroad except one photo that had the multi-track Dedham Branch bridge in the background.
I was only a kid but I think I remember a spur track went along the rear edge of the property at ground level (i.e., the front old Route 1 side) but the rear (Eastern Ave side) was a level down so coal trucks could load from underneath the trestle. I definitely remember there were some fuel tanks there so it is possible that the coal business was already a fuel oil business by that time. If you check out the lay of the land it is easy to see how it originally could function as a transfer station from coal hopper to dump truck. The topography is ideal.
  by highgreen215
 
YES! That’s the picture I saw in the F-C office.
  by jbvb
 
According to the NHRHTA 1978 reprint Characteristics Chart book, in 1921 there was a wye in Dedham connecting the line from Readville to both the line to Islington and the line to West Roxbury. It was gone in 1959.
  by mapnhrr
 
I have an interest in the Dedham Branch and it's lines to Readville, West Roxbury and Islington. I had taken a number of photos in the late 80's to today of the R.O.W.s and bridges, mostly now all gone or built over. The area I have found most challenging to locate photos of is the R.O.W. from Spring Street Station in West Roxbury looking toward Dedham and in particular, the railroad tracks, that passed under the 'new' Washington Street bridge and East Street toward the 4 trestle bridge and Dedham Center station. I recall in the 1970s seeing what appeared to look like the outline of a bridge by Washington Street at at the rear of the Dedham Mall parking lot near the incinerator which was filled in with a large concrete wall. I did not realize it at the time but this is where the railroad passed under Washington Street.

Research I have done indicates that the old Washington Street Bridge was replaced C-1928. The line was already double tracked on the old ROW under the bridge though seems a 3rd track was added after the new bridge was built.

If anyone has additional information or photos of this 'new' bridge under Washington Street, I would be very interested in seeing this.
  by mapnhrr
 
I have some pictures of trains at Dedham I picked up at train shows but the Dedham Historical Society is a great resource as well.
  by Arborwayfan
 
In the 70s and 80s there was a half built or half demolished building (bare rusty girders) built up against or recessed into a very tall retaining wall behind the Dedham Mall. It was basically in/at the edge of the main parking lot, south of the road that went up to Washington St. between the mall parking lot and the incinerator. It may have been connected to a building up above that fronted on Washington St. It always called my attention when we went to the Mall when I was a kid. Could that building and its weird configuration have had something to do with the old railroad line? (such as being a way for a business to reach down to a siding?)
  by bostontrainguy
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:56 am In the 70s and 80s there was a half built or half demolished building (bare rusty girders) built up against or recessed into a very tall retaining wall behind the Dedham Mall. It was basically in/at the edge of the main parking lot, south of the road that went up to Washington St. between the mall parking lot and the incinerator. It may have been connected to a building up above that fronted on Washington St. It always called my attention when we went to the Mall when I was a kid. Could that building and its weird configuration have had something to do with the old railroad line? (such as being a way for a business to reach down to a siding?)
I may be totally wrong but I remember that and I always thought it was a support structure built to hold up the wall.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Huh. That makes sense.