Abandoned Rails of Newmarket


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Greg Harrison

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The westernmost branch of the spur, running through the woods behind houses and apartments along Railroad Street between Exeter Road (Route 108) and South Main Street (Route 152). Photo by Kevin M. Smith, June 2008.

The Boston and Maine Railroad was a major railroad system in New England from 1836 to 1983. The system consisted of numerous branches as well as acquisitions and leases of other smaller railroad lines over the years across Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Quebec, Canada. Today, the Boston and Maine Railroad is known as the Boston and Maine Corporation in name only and is a non-operating subsidiary of Pan American Railways. Some of the original Boston and Maine Railroad branches still remain in service, including the branch from Dover, NH to Newton Junction, NH. Along this branch in the town of Newmarket, NH is a short and long-abandoned spur that once served the former Newmarket Freight Station.

The abandoned spur begins just west of the intersection of Exeter Road (Route 108) and New Road, and is no longer connected to the mainline. It is unknown exactly where the spur originally split off from the mainline, although no evidence of the spur can be found south of this location today. The spur then runs parallel to the mainline northwestward through the woods, splitting into two separate tracks that run along either side of the former Newmarket Freight Station, which is today the New England Barricade Company on Railroad Street. As of June 2008 both branches of the spur end on the north side of this building, and only the mainline crosses under South Main Street (Route 152) and continues northward. Old photographs suggest that there may have been one or more additional branches to this spur while it was in use, and as many as two rails may have crossed what is today South Main Street.

The date the spur was abandoned is unknown, although it was likely very long ago as both branches of the spur are heavily grown in and have been engulfed in forest, including moderate-sized trees growing up between the rails and ties. The tracks of the spur that are present as of June 2008 run for approximately 0.15 miles. A great deal of railroad debris can also be found in the woods along the abandoned spur, including old railroad ties and extra rail pieces.

The still-active mainline through Newmarket is very heavily used as of 2008, hosting the Amtrak Downeaster which passes through ten or more times each day with passenger service from Boston, MA to Portland, ME, with seven additional stops along the way. The mainline also sees daily freight traffic.

Thanks to Kevin M. Smith for contributing information about this route.

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