Archive | Windham 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.


Methuen Rail Trail group ride

Another late post, my apologies. Last Sunday had incredible weather…the kind that you read about in old books about New England. On the spur of the moment, we got a few folks together for a quick trip on the Windham Rail Trail…we were NOT alone.

Odd some days I get out there and it seems that everyone called ahead and arranged the day. From my experience it seems Monday holiday mornings are FAMILY days, and it seems Sunday mornings are DOG day, or rather BIG DOG day. It seems a new trick is for walkers to bag their Dogs leavings and then leave the bag on the side of the trail for the return trip…as practical as this is. I and the other trails users found this habit slovenly and rude. If you are reading this…knock it off.

If you want to ride for long stretches pretending you are alone on the trail, weekday mornings are ideal. Basically all day week days until about dinner time you can be alone for most of your ride, but the more I ride the busy times, the more i LIKE the happy communal atmosphere that a busy trail gives off. Everyone is smiling, everyone nods as you go past. Dog people talk to dog people, children people try to rein in their kids as they go tearing up ahead unmonitored, it has a very town and country feel to it.

We are hoping that if we keep doing group rides at the drop of a hat, we will eventually build up a base of interested riders to have ‘Official’ group rides.


Methuen Rides Windham

windham ride, originally uploaded by jgodsey.

A small group of Methuen Rail Trail supporters met up on Windham’s Rail Trail last Monday. The Banks, Tondo, Gallagher and Lavoie families (as well as myself) took a small cruise up and down Windham’s well cared for trail. Only a few of us had visited the trail in the past, and those that hadn’t were all a flutter with the idea that we could have anything like this for our very own. Hopefully we can make this a regular thing that will keep us inspired until that day comes.


residents split over restoration of rail service


Windham residents split over restoration of rail. Cost decried, economic benefits touted (read article) by Terry Date

This isn’t even NEW news, just a rehash of last months coverage of the Interstate 93 Transit Investment Study and basically a profile of rail proponent Peter Griffin.

The cost of the train isn’t even correctly estimated, that 200mil are 2008 dollars and doesn’t include any upgrades to infrastructure, like road widening, bridges, stations or parking. If the Express BUS service won’t even be completed for 17 years, can we hazard a guess how long it will take for train service to be completed? 20 years , 30 years? We can still have a nicely walkable trail in less than a year and with proper funding a bikable one in about two.

So, if we pretend that the country is not in an economic crises and isn’t looking at a serious recession to pay for the bailout, the war and the national debt. We will also have to pretend that federal funding won’t be harder to find than a vegan in Texas Roadhouse, we are still looking at 20 plus years of use for property that presently isn’t being enjoyed at all.


Windham Rail Trail

The paving of this lovely shared use trail is nearing completion. Four and a half marked miles, and passable from end to end, it is heavily used compared to most other Merrimack Valley trails. On a Sunday, you will meet serious cyclists and soccer moms with strollers, but even on its busiest day there are long stretches of trail where you would swear it was you and the chipmunks listening to the water drip off the granite ledges.

The trail head for Windham’s Rail Trail is at the old Depot on Windham Depot Road. go figure.
When you see the big blue caboose you are there. The parking lot holds about 15 cars but the trail users are always coming and going quickly enough that spaces are always available.

The southern terminus is behind Cycles Etc on Rt 28. This is not an official trail head so parking during Cycles Etc peak hours would be considered rude and at your own risk.

Windham Rail

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