Archive | Derry Rail Trail

Abandoned Lawrence and Manchester Railroad Corridor

This video shows the Rail Corridor for the most part BEFORE development of the Salem and Methuen Sections with some glimpses of the completed northern sections.

This video is about the Lawrence and Manchester Railroad. The Manchester and Lawrence Railroad was a railroad company that was chartered in New Hampshire by businessmen from Manchester, to build a rail line from that city to the Massachusetts state line. The Manchester and Lawrence was chartered in 1847 and opened in November 1849. It leased the newly built Methuen Branch from the Boston and Maine Railroad, which opened in August 1849 and ran from South Lawrence through Methuen to the state line where the two lines met. Methuen Train Depot. The B&M tried to lease the M&L, but the company leased itself to the Concord Railroad in 1850. This still helped the B&M as the railroad opened up a second Manchester to Boston route that helped the B&M compete with the combined Nashua and Lowell and Boston and Lowell Railroads. By 1887, the contract was terminated, and the B&M gained control of the line. In the 20th century, the line was relegated to local freight. Passenger service on the line dropped to one round trip per day until 1953 when regular passenger service ended. Special summer trains ran to Rockingham Park in Salem for the horse races until 1960 when that service stopped. Guilford switcher on the M&L in Salem, New Hampshire, circa 1993. Despite rapid growth in Rockingham County in the 1970s, rail traffic declined. In 1984, Guilford abandoned the line between Salem and Londonderry, and three years later the line in Londonderry to Manchester Airport was abandoned, leaving the line split in two. Service from Manchester down to the airport continued until the mid 1980s when the Manchester segment was taken out of service and freight service between Manchester and the airport had ended. Freight ran from Lawrence through Methuen up to the Salem depot until December 1993. Service from Lawrence to the Rockingham Racetrack run-around sidings continued until March 1999, and all service past the Lawrence/Methuen line ended in June 2001. Today, a small stretch in Lawrence is used as a short freight line that services a customer about once a month. The portion of the line in Massachusetts (Lawrence and Methuen) is currently owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) The abandoned roadbed currently serves as a rail trail in Londonderry, Derry and Windham. As of June 2012, 2.5 miles of track remains in place in Salem.

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Derry’s new pavement


I meant to post this about five times in the last 2 weeks. I have been a little busy and I can count the number of times i have ridden my bike on one hand. I wanted to try out Derry’s new pavement..and the decision is that pavement is SWEET – no pavement is painful.

Derry has paved what looks like a bit over half their trail. Where the trail had originally led you inside a large culvert under Bowers Rd, it now veers off to one side and up and over the street through a new set of bollards, and continues unpaved on the other side of the road about 60 feet away.

The paved section is as sweet as Windham or Nashua River, nicely spaced room enough for people and bicycles to pass nicely. The unpaved section is actually much better than I had expected, the only unfriendly sections were either rocky or sandy. Quite navigable by wide tire bikes, but it would be inappropriate for children or any bicycles that aren’t designed for serious offroading.

When Derry finishes their pavement project and connects to Windham, it will serve as the anchor for Salem and Methuen’s eventually link up. I ride these sections and it breaks my heart that I can’t continue on for another leisurely 7 miles and end up at my own door.


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The 1st section of the Derry Rail Trail paved

Published: August 04, 2009 03:29 am

Derry bike path paved
By Eric Parry

DERRY — The first section of the town's bike path has been paved as
part of a $315,000 project.

The asphalt was laid two weeks ago and only minor cleanup work
remains, according to public works Director Mike Fowler.

The first paved section runs from Kendall Pond Road to Bowers Road.
When finished, the two-mile bike path will connect from downtown Derry
to the four-mile, paved bike path in Windham.

Fowler said he's pleased with the work completed so far and the rest
of that one-mile section should be done within the next two weeks.
Some grass needs to be planted and the shoulders of the trail graded,
Fowler said.

Erich Whitney, president of the Derry Rail Trail Alliance, said the
group is raising money to pave the rest of the path but doesn't expect
that work to be completed this summer.

The group still needs to raise about $50,000 to finish the paving, he said.

To help pay for the rest of the work, Whitney said the Derry Rail
Trail Alliance has teamed up with similar groups in Salem and Windham
to apply for federal grants. If they can secure enough funding,
Whitney said he would like to fix a culvert beneath Bowers Road.

"It'd be nice to have a bigger tunnel so people don't have to duck
their heads," he said.

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Tribune – NH rail trail advocates aim for state grant

NH rail trail advocates aim for state grant

By Terry Date
Published: July 23, 2009 12:56 am

WINDHAM — Before pedaling over the Windham Rail Trail, bicyclists paused by an information kiosk they hope, someday soon, will display a trail route through three neighboring towns.

Members of the Southern New Hampshire Rail Trail Alliance want to make that hope a reality by securing a $1.3 million state transportation enhancement grant to build a paved trail connecting an 8-mile stretch from Old Rockingham Road in Salem north to Derry Center by the old train depot.

(read the article in its entirety)

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Derry Trail Nears Construction

from the Eagle Tribune:

Derry bike trail to be built soon by Eric Parry

DERRY — Construction on the town’s bike trail should begin this month and the whole two-mile route should be completed by the end of summer.

The Town Council has given the Derry Rail Trail Alliance permission to begin building the first phase of the project from Kendall Pond Road to Bowers Road.

Derry Rail Trail Alliance President Erich Whitney said he expects the grading and paving on that stretch of the trail to begin soon and be completed within three weeks.
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Salem is also working on extending the trail south through their town to the Methuen, Mass., line.

Bill Carter of the Salem Conservation Commission said the town is working on a transportation enhancement grant application to pave a one-mile stretch from the Windham line to Rockingham Road. The grant application is due by June 1. . . . .

(read the article in its entirety)

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Manchester Community Case Statement

worth reading • From the Rails to Trails Conservancy website, this case study for the completion of the trail system in the Manchester, New Hampshire region. The Salem-Lawrence section of track is mentioned on page 5. (download 19pps)

To say that the current regional pattern towards trail development in Southern
NH is alive and exciting would be an understatement. Here are just a few of
the current projects already underway:

Salem NH: Studies and engineering plans are being developed to convert the abandoned Manchester / Lawrence Railroad bed to a Bike/Ped Trail that will connect
with the completed trail in Windham and could eventually travel south to
Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Windham, NH: An active group has completed and is maintaining its portion of the
North/South 4.1 Mile Lawrence/Manchester Rail bed as a Bike Pedestrian
Manchester Regional Trail System Case Study Page 6 Rail Trail. In the planning stages is the Windham greenways project that could eventually connect Windham to Nashua and Rochester via the East/West Worcester, Nashua, Rochester Railroad line.

• Derry, NH: Utilizing the Manchester/Lawrence abandoned rail bed, Derry has completed approximately 1 mile of paved rail trail with phase two in the planning stages to create approximately 2 more miles and completing the connection to Windham. Derry is also working on the planning and designs for the completion of the Trail heading north to Londonderry.

Londonderry, NH: The town is actively studying and planning the creation of its portion of the Manchester/Lawrence Rail bed to connect to Manchester and Derry. Londonderry has several local trails that are maintained and created by the Londonderry Trailways organization.

A thoroughfare from here to Manchester would be very exciting and linking up to points south would bring a stream of travelers right through the center of the city. Imagine folks coming INTO downtown Methuen instead of just trying to pass right through?

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Derry Rail Trail



The Derry Rail Trail
Starts from behind the Depot Steakhouse on West Broadway, it terminates at Windham Road where it connects to the Windham Trail.

It is paved for much of it, as is the rest of Derry downtown Bike Loop, but even the unpaved section is walkable and even bikeable, if you don’t mind a few rocks and sandy spots. Given that it is flat and straight, it was surprisingly navigable on my 40 year old bike.

I did get stumped by the culvert though, the road rises up across the path like a stile, but the mountain bikers have conveniently carved ways around even that.

I cannot wait until the Derry Rail Trail Alliance has completed their fund drive, this Derry/Windham conduit is a lovely way to spend a late afternoon.

Derry Rail Trail.org

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