"In the field" railroad history adventures...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Brattleboro and Bellows Falls Train Stations

On a trip up to northern Vermont (to mountain bike), I stopped by at Brattleboro and Bellows Falls to check out the train stations...


Its kinda sad that the actual Amtrak Station is a puny section down in the basement but at least the station itself is preserved (it's an art museum).  Looking north, the tracks were pretty grown over.

According to shadyjay (, "the track on the right has been out of service for many years, though it's still connected at both ends and, in theory, could be put into service, but would have to have brush cleaned up. The mainline (to the left) is continuous welded rail that was installed in 2011. The line is still very much in use with daily freight trains and the Amtrak Vermonter."

(details on the track usage in text above)

Bellows Falls

The view north up the river was entrancing. It must have been a picturesque train ride back in the day...

... but the actual station area looked pretty desolate although it's still a stop on the Amtrak Vermotner (see map).
Map Source
An interesting tourist-oriented addition in the vicinity is the "Waypoint Visitor Center" (adjacent to the Bellows Falls Canal). Architecturally modeled as a train station with a symbolic arch bridge melded in as well, it had a bit about the railroad history of the town--it was a major hub--but not a mention of Steamtown's origins here - STRANGE!?
Waypoint Visitor Center
Large sign detailing Bellows Falls railroad heritage:

Nice photos of yesteryear

Further Info


-Bellows Falls-

Friday, August 19, 2016

Trestle Trail - Summit, Rhode Island

This bike path runs along an abandoned rail corridor of the former Providence, Hartford, & Fishkill Railroad. It is a designated section of the East Coast Greenway. The section east out of Summit is paved all the way to Cranston. West out of Summit it is not paved and eventually connects to the Moosup Valley State Park Trail at the Connecticut state line.

A lovely trestle is one of the highlights of the non paved section.

Maps of the Railbed

About the Trail

After mountain biking in Burlingame in the morning, I decided to head up to Coventry/Summit to ride the unpaved section of the Rail Trail. The dirt section west out of Summit definitely required a mountain bike. Much of the route is peppered with moguls: every five feet of so there is a 3 to 4ft depression and then a hump. Annoying but not difficult to ride. The trail surface is compacted dirt, gravel some sandy areas and--where too wet to ride--there are ATV reroutes off to the side that are strewn with roots. Needless to say, that made it fun to ride on a mountain bike!

I stopped at the Summit General Store for lunch. PS - the pickled eggs were delicious!
Summit General Store
 The trail head has a nice sign detailing the history of the railroad.
End of the paved section
Looking back eastward
Trestle Trail Sign

The Ride

A lovely rail cut - ooo yeah!
The moguls were all over the place -- A mini roller coaster!
Where the rail bed was too wet (bad drainage), there were ATV trails to the side.
Alternate route where wet
There is a new road you cross over that goes to the huge windmill

First Bridge

I walked it!
View from below

Greene - Railroad Memorial

There is a wonderful tribute to the railroad in the small town of Greene

The tread turns to gravel.

Bridge #2 - This is a tall trestle!

View from the trestle
This steep eroded gully was the way down
View from below
Short video

I rode west on for a while longer and decided to turn around here.

On the return, I stopped to snap this photo of the retaining wall - what a lovely view!
There were a series of these poles off to the side
Crossing Bridge #1 (gingerly!)
Lovely pine tree lined embankment through the marsh

Further Info

The Providence, Hartford, & Fishkill Railroad was also known as the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill. There were stations both at Summit and Greene. Timeline of this section of the railroad:
  • 1854 - Hartford, Providence & Fishkill (HP&F) built this rail line connecting Providence RI with Willamantic, CT
  • 1881 - The HP&F was leased to the New York and New England Railroad
  • 1898 - Absorbed by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
  • 1968 - The tracks were removed

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New York Transit Museum

The New York Transit Museum is located in a decommissioned subway station in Brooklyn - conveniently just a few blocks from where I work. I took a lunch hour excursion there to check it out today.

To get to the museum you use a subway entrance and go down two flights of stairs.

Top Floor Exhibits

The museum has the first underground floor devoted to various exhibits. The artifacts and diagrams of how the subways were first constructed were fascinating...
under the river
"cut and cover"
peeling away the streets
In addition, on this "top" floor there are detailed exhibits about all the disasters that befell the subway system through the years and how these emergencies were dealt with.  911, The NYC Blackout,  Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene, etc. Its amazing to see the scope of damage from each one of these terrible events and the resiliency needed to get the system running as quickly as possible again.

Subway Cars Through the Years...

But by far the best was the bottom floor - the actual subway stop that was now brimming with transit cars from all the ages..

This was a pump car, housing an enormous pump used to pump out flooded water in the tunnels.

They even had a caboose!

Further Info

Transit Museum

New York Transit Museum (Wikipedia)