• Westover ARB Rails to Be Scrapped

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

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  by RailVet
Westover railroad to be torn up
Friday, June 09, 2006
[email protected]

CHICOPEE - One of the last remaining vestiges of the Cold War era at Westover Air Reserve Base will soon be removed.

The custom-sized railroad that hauled bombs from an ammunition bunker to the tarmac for loading aboard B-52 strategic heavy bombers is no longer needed and will be torn up.

The meandering railway runs a couple of miles through the sprawling base, according to Jean Fitzgerald, Conservation Commission chairwoman.

She said the tracks pass through a buffer area near wetlands, but their removal is not expected to disturb the delicate ecology, she said.

"We didn't really have any issues" with the railway's removal, she said yesterday.

Jack Moriarty, Westover's environmental engineer, took plans for removing the tracks to the city's Conservation Commission on Wednesday.

The tracks are considered an obstruction to the main base runway, he said. When they will be removed is uncertain, he said.

"It's a long-range project," said Moriarty.

Fitzgerald said the work will probably be carried out during drier weather, when it has a minimal impact on the buffer zone.

Moriarty presented such a detailed removal plan to the conservation panel that members voted immediately that they had no objections, he reported.

"All of our concerns were addressed," said Fitzgerald.

Westover was opened in 1940 as a training base, and then became a portal for Eighth Air Force personnel and planes leaving and re-entering the country during World War II. Later, it served as a staging point for the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift and a headquarters of the Military Air Transport Service.

In 1955, it became a major Strategic Air Command installation, and its 300-foot-wide, two-mile-long main runway was constructed to accommodate the big B-52s.

Several highly secret projects were undertaken at the base during the Cold War, according to a history of the base written by Frank Faulkner.

One was the construction of a nuclear-bomb-proof alternate command post for SAC, which served as a key installation during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Faulkner wrote in "Westover: Man, Base and Mission."

The base guarded its secrets so well, he said, that there is no public record of security breaches, and no evidence that national security was ever compromised there.
  by RailVet
From Westover's Aug 06 Base Pub:
http://www.westover.afrc.af.mil/shared/ ... 20-023.pdf

Last Call

Article and photo by
Tech. Sgt. Andrew Biscoe

It wasn't exactly what some might picture for a US Marine two week annual tour.

Fourteen combat engineers from Westover's Marine Wing Support Squadron spent ten days removing about four and a half miles of the old base railroad in June.

In the sweltering heat, they yanked and pulled the ties out of the old track, which was used by the Air Force for transporting munitions and passengers here during the '40s and '50s.

The Marines removed tracks that ran parallel to Patriot Avenue near base operations, by Dogpatch to Wade Lake and by the north end of Westover's primary runway.

"We approached the base and asked for a project for our annual training," said Gunnery Sgt. James Grandchamp, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the project.

"Jack Moriarty (base environmental engineer) and Leroy Clink (base civil engineer) came to us and said this would be a good project for us."

The Marines literally had to pull the tracks, tie by tie, out of the ground. Each rail had four spikes per tie. One crew of Marines removed the spikes, then others unbolted the tracks.

"Pulling the pins and unbolting the track are the two hardest parts of this work," said Sergeant Grandchamp as sweat glistened off his forehead.

Once they pried the ties loose, Sergeant Grandchamp and his crew used cranes to lift the rail-each nearly 1,000 pound-off the tracks. The rails were then placed on forklifts and hauled to a flatbed trailer.

"This is kind of up our alley with the heavy equipment, he said. "However, what we're doing right now is nothing but manual labor."
  by RailVet
June's tearing up of the track has been in the works for some time.
SPRINGFIELD TERMINAL RAILWAY CO. – To abandon a 4.8-mile line of railroad known as the Westover Industrial Track extending from milepost 0.0 to milepost 4.8 in Chicopee, Hampden County, MA. effective on August 12, 2004. (STB Docket No. AB-355 (Sub-No. 30X, decided July 2, served July 13, 2004)