Leominster to Fitchburg
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I remember during the early 1970s an SW would come through town once a week to switch the Foster Grant complex on the north side of town. The station still existed but was a package goods store for as long as I could remember. After the creation of Conrail and the closing of the FG plant, the line was abandoned from the south end of town up to Fitchburg. I am sure that the track has been pulled up from Fitchburg to the memorial park in Leominster if not to the existing serviced line on the south end of town. I have some tie date spikes from that line that date from the late 20s to the 30s so even in the 70s it was a branch line that saw little service or maintenance.
The railroad line in Leominster/Fitchburg, that was abandoned, pretty much runs parallel to Rt.12 from the old Grossmans bldg in Fitchburg (where it seperates from the Fitchburg main line) to the center of Leominster on Mechanic St. The track ends only a few feet after the rail crossing on the very north edge of the Leominster rail yard. From the railyard, south, the track is in service. This runs from Leominster, thru Sterling, Lancaster, Clinton, Berlin, Northboro, Marlboro, Southboro to where it meets up with the Boston/Albany main line in Framingham. Prior to 2005, the abandoned Leominster-Fitchburg stretch was pretty overgrown with exception of the line cutting right thru the downtown common area. In the latter part of 2005-06, there was a push to convert this abandoned segment to a rail trail. Crews came in and cleared the ROW and pulled all the rails, ties and at all grade crossings, pulled the signals and resurfaced the roads at those crossings. After that, there was talk that money dried up and the project came to a halt. The ROW clearing is still clear at most areas but getting overgrown in others again. The only things along the line that remain from the old railroad, besides the gravel, are some switchboxes and various telegraph poles here and there along the line. I havent heard if there is a renewed effort to continue the line as a rail trail, as of 2011. The bridge over Rt.2 is still in place but a washout behind Longhorn's (next to water tower plaza) keeps the line from being crossed at that location. I wonder if this washout (which has taken this line out here a good 12+ years ago) was one reason for the abandonment.
Back in the late 60's I was employed with the New Haven R.R.
That run from Framingham to Fitchburg was know as CJ-1.
It was all Alco powered at the time by RS-3, series locomotives. 1600H.P.
Their were five man crews for switching and spotting cars.
I recently stopped by the Mechanic Street railroad crossing in Leominster. While I was aware that CSX is doing some tie replacement work in the yard on the "main" track I noted a couple things that are seeming bizarre.
As any railfan in the area knows, the distance between the switchpoints to the runaround track and the Mechanic Street crossing is only an engine length. And, when they use two engines, in order to clear the switch for the runaround track, CSX needs to enter the road, therefore, they need to maintain the crossing protection (the flashers).
I have recently noted a section of pre-fabricated track nearby. My guess is CSX is literally going to rebuild the crossing! Really?! They is only enough room for one engine after the crossing!
Is it that much trouble to move the switch in so they can terminate the track BEFORE it enters the road?