This web page provides additional information and photographs
to complement Volume 16, Issue 1, of Bedford Depot News.

UPDATED: MARCH 14, 2010



E-mail from J. Leonard Bacheler
February 20, 2010

You gave me an excuse to partake of my absolute favorite activity - historical research! I spent about an hour and a half this morning at the Boston & Maine Railroad Society Archives. As you know, I am sure, they have a large collection of B&M employees' timetables, and I was sure that the answer to when the double track was removed from the Lexington Branch (as well as many other answers) could be found there. I ddi not have time to do a thorough study, so I picked a few selected issues more or less at random until I was able to zero in on the date you were looking for.

Obviously, much more could be learned from a more exhaustive study of the available material. Aside from these employees' timetables in the Archives, the Archives also has a large collection of B&M public timetables; and I personally have a large collection of public timetables which probably contains something like 3/4 of the issues since about 1927 with some earlier. In any case, here is some information gleaned from Southern Division Employees' Timetables.


Timetable Number 22 - October 5, 1908:
24-hour ("Day and Night" in railroad parlance) telegraph offices were located at Boston (North Station - the old 1894 station), Mystic Junction, Somerville Junction, North Cambridge Junction, North Billerica and Bleachery.

A parenthetical note:  "Bleachery" was/is at the north end of the large freight yard on the south side of Lowell where the Southern Division main line from Boston to Lowell, Concord, New Hampshire, and beyond was/is joined by the route from Lowell Juction and points east to Portland. The Bleachery station was adjacent to the bridge where the tracks go over Gorham Street. This is the bridge that had (and maybe still has) the "Welcome to Spaghettiville" sign painted on it. It is close by the former Prince Spaghetti Factory. I would assume from the name that at one time there was a large bleachery for the textile mills located nearby.

"Day" telegraph offices were located at West Somerville (College Avenue - Davis Square), Arlington, Arlington Heights, Lexington, Bedford, Billerica, Lowell, Concord (Lowell Road) and Reformatory Station.

There were three passenger trains each way daily except Sunday between Boston and Reformatory Station.

There were four passenger trains daily except Sunday Boston to Lowell via Bedford, with two of them shown as going to Ayer (via the Stony Brook Branch), and three trains Lowell to Boston via Bedford. Of course, these trains travelled on the Southern Division main line between North Billerica and Lowell.

There were five additional passenger trains each way daily except Sunday between Boston and Bedford only.

There were six additional passenger trains each way daily except Sunday between Boston and Lexington only.

There were ten additional passenger trains each way daily except Sunday between Boston and Arlington only. Five of these round trips were in the morning "rush hour" and five in the afternoon "rush hour."

The last passenger trains of the day from Boston were at 10:22 P.M. for Bedford and 11:30 P.M. for Lexington.

There were two passenger round trips on Sundays between Boston and Reformatory Station. This train left the Reformatory in the early morning, ran to Boston, went back to Reformatory Station leaving Boston about noon, then repeated the trip in the afternoon departing Reformatory Station about 4:00 P.M. One could guess that its purpose was to take people who might wish to pay a Sunday visit to inmates in the Reformatory. This was the only Sunday service on the Branch, but it made all the local stops along the way.

A scheduled third class "local freight" left Mystic Junction (freight yard in Somerville) at 6:10 A.M. daily except Sunday, ran to Reformatory Station, back to Bedford, then to Bleachery, and return to East Cambridge Yard via Bedford, scheduled to arrive there at 4:10 P.M.

Double track extended "Somerville Junction to Lexington."

There were no coaling stations listed on the Branch. "Water stations" were at Lexington, Bedford and Reformatory Station.

Timetable Number 30 - September 30, 1912:
North Billerica was now a "Day" Telegraph Office while Lowell was now in service "Day and Night". "North Cambridge Junction" had been renamed simply "North Cambridge."

There were still three passenger trains each way daily except Sunday Boston - Reformatory Station.

There were still four passenger trains daily except Sunday Boston to Lowell via Bedford, but none of them were now shown as going to Ayer, and three trains Lowell to Boston via Bedford.

There were five additional passenger trains each way daily except Sunday between Boston and Bedford only.

There were seven additional passenger trains each way daily except Sunday between Boston and Lexington only plus one Saturday only round trip about 1 P.M. (In those days, many people worked a half day on Saturdays.)

There were eight additional passenger trains each way daily except Sunday between Boston and Arlington only. Five of these round trips were in the morning "rush hour" and three in the afternoon "rush hour."

The last passenger trains of the day from Boston were at 10:36 P.M. for Lexington and 11:31 P.M. for Bedford.

continued above


Sunday passenger service had been discontinued. (I did not look at all the timetables, so I don't know exactly when [service was discontinued], but it is shown in my June 1910 Official Guide.)

The scheduled third class local freight schedule was unchanged.

Double track extended "Somerville Junction to Lexington." Coaling stations and water stations were not listed in the timetable.

Timetable Number 40 - June 25, 1917:
Arlington Heights was no longer a Telegraph Office. A Ticket Agent who more than likely doubled as a freight agent, however, was employed here (according to public timetables) until the spring of 1952.

There was now only one passenger train each way daily except Sunday Boston - Reformatory Station.

There were still four passenger trains daily except Sunday Boston to Lowell via Bedford, but only two trains Lowell to Boston via Bedford. In addition, there was a Saturday only early afternoon round trip to Billerica.

A Parenthetical note:  When the Boston & Lowell Railroad built the standard-gauge track from Bedford to North Billerica, they looked at the hill on which Billerica Centre stands and decided to skirt it, staying in the valley of the Concord River. Thus, Billerica Staion was at River Street; and there was a "Bennett Hall" station at the crossing of Boston Road, the present Route 3A.

There were five additional passenger trains each way daily except Sunday between Boston and Bedford only, with the last train leaving Boston at 11:01 P.M. There was now only one additional passenger train daily except Sunday from Boston to Lexington only, in the afternoon "rush hour" (returning in late evening).

There was now only one additional passenger round trip daily except Sunday between Boston and Arlington only in the morning "rush hour" and one in the afternoon "rush hour."

The local freight schedule is not shown in the timetable.

Double track extended "Somerville Junction to Lexington."

Coaling stations were not listed in the timetable. Water stations were Boston, Lexington, Bedford, Reformatory Station, Bleachery and Lowell.

Timetable Number 47 - October 31, 1920:
There was still one passenger train each way daily except Sunday Boston - Reformatory Station.

There were still four passenger trains daily except Sunday Boston to Lowell via Bedford, with two trains from Lowell to Boston via Bedford.

There were four additional passenger trains each way daily except Sunday between Boston and Bedford only, with the last train leaving Boston at 11:26 P.M. There was also a Saturday only early afternoon round trip.

There was now only one additional passenger train daily except Saturday and Sunday from Boston to Lexington only in the afternoon "rush hour," returning as "Dead Head Equipment" in the evening.

There was now only one additional passenger round trip daily except Sunday between Boston and Arlington only, running in the afternoon "rush hour." In the morning "rush hour," a "Dead Head Equipment" train went out from Boston to Arlington and returned to Boston as a regular passenger train.

The local freight schedule is not shown in the timetable.

Double track extended "Somerville Junction to Lexington."

Coaling stations were not listed in the timetable. Water stations were Boston, Lexington, Bedford, Reformatory Station, Bleachery and Lowell.

Timetable Number 59A - January 24, 1927:
Passenger train service had been abandoned between Bedford and Reformatory Station. Reformatory Station and West Somerville were no longer Telegraph Offices (train order offices). Reformatory Station was no longer a water station.

There was now only one passenger round trip daily except Sunday between Boston and Lowell via Bedford. In addition, the Saturday only early afternoon passenger train still was scheduled Boston to Billerica, but it returned as "Dead Head Equipment."

There were four additional passenger trains from Boston to Bedford only, with the last train leaving Boston at 6:20 P.M. Two of these trains ran daily except Sunday and the other two daily except Saturday and Sunday. Returning, there were three daily except Sunday trains from Bedford to Boston in the morning and one train daily except Saturday and Sunday in the afternoon.

Additional local service to Lexington and to Arlington had been discontinued.

The local freight schedule is not shown in the timetable.

Double track extended "Somerville Junction to Lexington."

Timetable Number 60 - April 24, 1927:
This is the timetable that shows the service re-routed to operate via the Fitchburg Division between Boston and Fens. Concord is no longer a train order office (Telegraph Station). Most significantly for our present interest, there is no longer double track on the Lexington Branch. So evidently, the second track was taken out of service at roughly (or maybe exactly) the same time as the re-routing over the Fitchburg Division began. There was no consequential change in the passenger train service other than routing via Cambridge instead of via Somerville.

 

E-mail from Edward Levay
February 13, 2010

The single tracking of the Lexington Branch took place between September, 1925, and April, 1928.

I have Southern Division employee timetable #57 9/27/1925 and it shows double track on the old route via Somerville Junction all the way to Lexington and also automatic block signals on that section. System employee timetable #1, 4/29/1928 has the route single track with automatic signals as far as Lake Street only on the reroute via West Cambridge.

The signals from Lake Street probably functioned only as approach signals to the Diamond Crossing and West Cambridge interlockings.

With some of my other materials, I can probably get much closer to the actual date.

E-mail from Thomas Humphrey
February 21, 2010

The [1946 B&M Employees Magazine] article that mentions that the Lexington Branch was double tracked in 1888 is slightly off.

I have an almost complete set of annual reports of the Massachusetts Board of Railroad Commissioners, and these include annual returns from each railroad company in the state. The Boston & Lowell return for the year ending 9/30/1885 shows the Lexington & Arlington Branch as all single track, but the report for the year ending 9/30/1886 shows it as double track for the full distance from Somerville Junction to Lexington.

Charges to the property account for that year include $55,340 for double track on "Middlesex Central RR." The B&L sometimes used the Middlesex Central designation to refer to the Lexington & Arlington and the Middlesex Central combined. The actual Middlesex Central continued to be single track.

The double-tracking of the Lexington Branch was done the year after the construction of the Billerica & Bedford Branch - for which the B&L reported a construction cost of $46,321 in 1885 - and was likely in part due to anticipation of additional traffic that extension would bring. In any event, this shows that the double-tracking preceded the B&M lease of the B&L.

 

 
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