Everett to Lynn

The Saugus Branch Railroad

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The abandoned Saugus Branch Railroad running through its namesake town. Photo by Mike Damico, April 2005.

The Saugus Branch Railroad was incorporated by the state of Massachusetts in 1848, opening in 1853 as a branch from the Boston & Maine Railroad at Malden (formerly known as Linden, MA) to Lynn, via Saugus, at a distance of 10 miles. While seemingly innocent enough, the SBRR was actually part of a much larger rivalry between its parent company, the B&M, and another railroad in the area, the Eastern Railroad. Each wanted its part of the lucrative passenger market that Boston had to offer. In order for the B&M to capture some of the potential ridership from the Eastern Railroad, they extended the tracks of the SBRR to within close proximity of Eastern's line in Lynn, MA. The Eastern Railroad, seeing a B&M branch line so close to their own, somehow purchased a controlling interest in the SBRR from the B&M in 1855.

The tables had now turned -- the Eastern Railroad now operated the SBRR, but with no physical connection to their own line (and, no less, it still had a connection at Linden with the competition, B&M), they successfully petitioned the state legislature to 1) sever the line's connection with the B&M, 2) extend the "northern" end of the line just a bit more and build a new connection with their own line at Lynn, and 3) extend the "southern" end, formerly connected to the B&M, to the east for another mile or so to connect with their own line again at Everett.

By 1884, the Eastern Railroad fell to the hands of B&M, and the famous war between these two rival railroads came to an end. Not much is known about the Saugus Branch Railroad afterwards. It is believed that the line, along with all other ex-Eastern Railroad lines, were purchased by the MBTA for transit use during the 1970s. The line in its entirety lays abandoned today.

Mike Damico shares some photos of the abandoned line between Adams Avenue and Denver Street in Saugus, MA.

I used to walk to the middle school down those tracks. On occassion a train would be passing by when school let out and we would sneak a ride home, yes we were not to bright.

I can't believe that was over 30 years ago, time flies. I am sure the dirt bikes must still be using the tracks.

Anyone know when was the last time a train went through there?

Mike
Saugus, MA
9/6/2010

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The following can be found at:

http://www.mbta.com/uploadedFiles/Documents/North_Shore_Transit_Improvements/Scoping_Report_Appendix_N.pdf

Use of the Saugus Branch would require re-activation of a rail corridor that has been inactive since occasional freight service last operated in 1993 (along the western portion of the branch through Malden and Everett). Passenger service was last operated in 1958, whereupon the line was converted to a single-track operation.

Michael Conway
North Shore, MA
9/23/2010

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this line is not owned by the MBTA as reference in the story but rather the Pan Am Railway which has formerly filed a request with the Federal Surface Transportation Board to formerly abandon the 9.74 mile right of way. Community activitists have been working for a long time to make this ROW the backbone of the Norhtern Strand Community Trail. Once abandon the communities can apply for federal funds for trail improvements.

Rick Patoski
Marblehead, MA
11/4/2010

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As a boy in the 50s, I remember B&M used steam Locomotives for passenger service on the old Saugus branch, at least 4 a day, 2 in the AM and 2 in the PM. I lived near the junction of the Saugus line and the Eastern line in Lynn and a switcher from the B&M would service customers on the Saugus branch. There was a coal company and a home repair type warehouse and some switching at the West Lynn GE plant. I never saw any through freight service and I never saw any of the old Buddliners on the Saugus branch.

Mike Mauro
Lynn, MA
2/21/2011

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I used to live in Everett and the Saugus Branch ran at the bottom of my street. I would use the trains as a clock to go to school in the morning. When the train went by, I would leave for school. If I was still out when the afternoon trains went by, I was in trouble because I was late for supper.

This line was used as the "back door" for oversize shipments from the GE plant in Lynn.

It aslo served a large GE plant in Everett.

Charlie
Acton, MA
7/15/2011

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Company I worked for used to get the steel delivered from a siding running off this line in Everett. I remember in the early 60's rail cars being unloaded into the pipe yard. Later when I worked there, if I heard the rumble of a train I would run down the stairs and out the door to catch a glimpse. Last trains I remember were an occasional load of flour to Piantedosi Bakery or an MBTA balast train. Last activity on this portion was DUKE Energy installed high pressure gas line out to Lynn along this line.

David Roberts
Belmont, MA
7/23/2011

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It's a real shame this line is being abandoned. The neighborhoods through which the line runs are very densely populated, and are only served by bus routes. It would have been a real benefit to the communities if this line had been railbanked instead of abandoned, so that at some future date there would be a chance to restore passenger service.

Stefan W
Lynn, MA
9/19/2011

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All of this original track from Everett to Lynn is being turned into a "bike-to-the-sea" public use trail although there is some blockage to it happening on the Lynn side because of a prior MBTA lease contract. Until they can find a way to cover any liabilities (i.e. anyone getting hurt on the property in Lynn) the only people onboard right now is Everett and Malden. The cost of making this is coming out of meal tax increases in both cities which will pay off a government bond loan to pay for the pulling up of ties and the paving of the trail.

Kirk
Malden, MA
10/15/2011

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I remember playing at Roosevelt Park, Maplewood, as a kid (about 1955 or so) and watching the workers at Continental Can loading cans into freight cars. The loading was done by hand, 2 guys per car, with what looked like big rakes. It seemed like it took all day. There was also a conveyer connection to Friends Beans, next door, They also used the rail line. We used to jump trains and ride them to Malden Square, the freights always ran slowly enough to get off and on easily. When the state was constructing the I95 bypass, 2 train loads, 120 to 140 cars long, of sand would use this line daily.

Arthur Bergh
Malden, MA
11/4/2011

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My dad worked at the ge plant in Everett and the small plant in Medford MA. He actually died at 263 Middlesex ave in the Medford plant from solvent fumes called tricholine and I could not sue GE! But I remember he said that there was a train that took parts to and from GE in Medford to Everett to lynn. I think I actually saw those tracks on the Medford GE when I was driving thru Middlesex ave one summer. I said to my friend that those were the tracks where those trains came from. Now the plant in Medford and Everett have been torn down.

Trisha Soboll
Medford, MA
4/10/2012

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I grew up living next to the branch near Linden Sq from 1947 to 1974. The line was very busy with one daily freight and two passenger trains. The passenger business ended in 1958, but the freight continued past 2000. One of the more exciting times occurred in April 1968 when the state planned to build route 95 across the Lynn Marsh near Revere. Four trains carrying gravel would come down from Bow NH six days a week. The unloading would begin around 530am and not end until 7 or 8pm. The operation ended in the fall and then resumed briefly in 1969 for about two month. The line had a bit of resurgance again in the early 70's with the delivery of rock salt to Rowe in north Revere.

Ed Canney
Wakefield, MA
6/6/2012

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I have been working on the Bike to the sea and it is cool to see all the cool facts on here. I have lived in Saugus all my life[43 years] and learned quite a few things from this page. Check out the new trail it is awesome!

Ron Wallace
Saugus, MA
9/30/2012

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It was great to find this page. I always wondered about those tracks across the street from my grandparents house back in the fiftys. I wonder why I can't find a picture or even a word about the electric buses that ran along Eastern ave. Every search I've done comes up with nothing.

Gary
Jupiter, FL
2/6/2013

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In 1996 I saw a single engine pulling a flat bed car across Rte 60 by the old Grossman's Hardware when I was working at Mattress Discounters. It totally caught me off guard.

Ray Hegarty
Winthrop/Medford
8/3/2013

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