Brattleboro to South Londonderry

The West River Railroad

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(Forwarded from the Central Vermont Railroad)

This line was built around 1880 as the Brattleboro & Whitehall Railroad and was intended to go from Brattleboro, through South Londonderry to Whitehall, NY. It only made it as far as South Londonderry. At some point soon after it was built it became known as the West River Railroad. It was a narrow gauge railroad that ran along the West River valley. Owing to the amount of bridge washouts from floods, and stranded passengers during snow storms, it quickly earned the title of "36 Miles of Trouble". The railroad frequently had problems pulling the passengers and freight cars up and over ridges all at one time. The solution was to lighten the load by breaking the train up pulling the load one section at a time up and over the ridge.

A 1903 editorial called the trains "try-daily -- they go down in the morning and try to get back at night". It ran from the year 1879 until 1927. The line was standard-gauged at some point, and became affiliated and/or owned by the Central Vermont. The line was abandoned in 1936 and track was pulled up that year.

Evidence of the West River Railroad can still be seen near a county camp ground where the West River and Winhall River converge. At the convergence of the rivers, you can still see evidence of the bridge support structure where the line crossed the Winhall river. The roadbed is now a rail-to-trail along one side of the West River into the town of South Londonderry.

Towns on the line northwest from Brattleboro are West Dummerston, Williamsville, Newfane, Townshend, West Townshend, Wardsboro, Jamaica, Winhall and into South Londonderry.

Thanks to Doug Climenson for contributing information about this route.

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