Southern New England Trunkline Trail

Franklin MA to CT State Line - 20 miles - Gravel & Ballast

Daniel O'Brien
MA Department of Environmental Management
Division of Resource Conservation
100 Cambridge Street, Room 1404
Boston , MA 02202-0044

The Massachusetts Bikeways page at the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition Web Site seems to have the best list of the Rail-trails and other bike paths and bike routes in the State. That Web Page in turn seems to provide links to whatever other information is available on the Web about this Rail-trail. What follows must be understood as a Supplement to the information that is currently available at the Massachusetts Bikeways Page!

Airline Trail


MA State Line to Putnam CT - Gravel & Ballast

Putnam to Willimantic CT - Gravel & Ballast

Willimantic to Cobalt CT - Gravel & Ballast

Historic Railroad Mileage Charts

Norfolk County RR 



16.5 Franklin Jct.
19 Wadsworths
21 Bellingham
(South Bellingham)
25 Blackstone

Southbridge & Blackstone RR



0 Blackstone, MA
3 Millville Heights
7 South Uxbridge
(Iron Stone)
10 East Douglas
12 Douglas, MA
17 East Thompson, CT
21 Thompson
23 Mechanicsville
25 Putnam
30 Pomfret
32 Abington
34 Elliot
38 Hampton
42 Goshen
(Clark's Corner)
45 North Windham
50 Willimantic, CT

Air Line RR



51 Columbia CT
48 Chestnut Hill
(Liberty Hill)
45 Leonards Hill
42 Amsten
37 Westchester
(West Chester)
35 Lyman Viaduct
31 East Hampton
28 Cobalt
24 Portland, CT

* miles from Dedham MA
** miles from Blackstone MA
*** miles from Air Line Jct CT (Cedar Hill Jct) [near New Haven]

Mileage and Station names from Tables 11, 16 & 67 in The Rail Lines of Southern New England by Ronald Dale Karr, published by Branch Line Press in 1995.

Relevant books

A 5 mile section of the Airline Trail in East Hampton (Bull Hill Rd to Smith St) is described in section 1 of  the Official Rails-to-Trails Conservancy New England Guidebook by Cynthia Mascott published in 2000 by Globe Pequot Press. This trail listing contains a photograph, historical description, trail head directions and parking, a trail map, trail details, a local trail manager contact, and much more. Section A of this book contains limited information about the 26 mile section of trail between Windham (Willimantic) and Putnam.

A 7.3 mile section of the Airline South State Park Trail between East Hampton  and Marlborough is described in Great Rail Trails of the Northeast by Craig Della Penna. The information includes a historical background of the trail as well as a detailed description keyed to bicycle odometer readings from the author's in person trip down the trail. This book is out-of-print, but many bookstores still have copies for sale.

East Coast Greenway

The Putnam to Willimantic section of this Rail-trail will be part of the East Coast Greenway, a multi-use trail that is planned from Maine to Florida. The East Coast Greenway has recently been selected as one of 15 trails for designation as a Millenium Trail, which should be very helpful in focusing public attention on all of the component trail projects.

Status Report to ECGA (2001 State of the Trail Report)

Newspaper Articles

Public Transportation to the Trail

Train Station MBTA Commuter Rail to Forge Park stops at Forge Park Station and Franklin Station on a daily basis, near the Franklin end of the Rail-trail. Bicycles are accommodated except for weekday rush-direction trips (indicated in timetable with gray columns).

Rhode Island Public Transit Authority serves neighboring Woonsocket with service to Pawtucket and Providence. All city busses have bike racks on a seasonal basis! Note that MBTA Commuter Rail (Attleboro line) is available at Providence Union Station on Weekdays only, and daily at South Attleboro Station (0.4 mile from the Route 77 bus stop at Newport & Benefit).  Bicycles are accommodated on commuter trains except for weekday rush-direction trips (indicated in timetable with gray columns). Note also that Amtrak Twilight Shoreliner (New York City, Washington DC  & Newport News VA) stops at Providence Union Station on a daily basis. This train has bike racks and also handles bikes in boxes as baggage. Other Amtrak trains accept folding bicycles only!  

Train StationBicycles MBTA Commuter Rail to Worcester terminates at Union Station in Worcester on a daily basis. Bicycles are accommodated except for specified weekday rush-direction trips (indicated in timetable with gray columns). Amtrak Lake Shore Limited (Chicago-Albany-Boston) stops at Union Station in Worcester on a daily basis. Bicycles are accommodated in boxes as baggage and folding bicycles in the coaches. A daily Amtrak train to New York & Washington also stops at Worcester, but that train accepts folding bicycles only!  Blackstone Valley Bikeway offers a temporary on-road bike route from Blackstone to Worcester until such time as corresponding sections of the planned Off-road bikeway is open for public use. Worcester RTA bus connections are available in both Milbury and Worcester. All WRTA busses have Bike Racks!

Worcester RTA - #42 (Webster) terminates at the Dunkin Donuts on Route 12 in Webster on Weekdays and Saturdays. This bus operates to the transfer point in downtown Worcester where a connecting bus is available to Union Station. All WRTA busses have Bike Racks!

Northeast Connecticut Transit District (Map) provides rural public transportation in Brooklyn, Killingly, Putnam, and Thompson on weekdays only. For more information please call: 860-774-3902. Bicycles are presumably not accommodated on this bus!

Windham Region Transit District

Bonanza Bus (Hartford-Providence) stops in Willimantic at Bev's News Stand, 790 Main St. on a daily basis. 

Arrow Line operates a commuter bus service from Willimantic to Hartford Weekday rush hour only. (Potential users must inquire about bicycles!

Middletown Transit District Route F (Portland - East Hampton) offers local and express bus service to the Portland & East Hampton end of the trail on weekdays only on nearby Route 16 and 66 from Portland through Cobalt (Route 151) to the Main Street Crossing in East Hampton. CT Transit - Hartford Route M (Middletown) offers a connecting city bus service from the Middletown Bus Terminal to Hartford on weekdays only. (Potential users must inquire about bicycles on both busses!) 

Greyhound & Peter Pan Bus Lines stops at the Middletown Bus Terminal on a daily basis. 

Train Station Amtrak Vermonter (Washington DC, New York City, Springfield  & Vermont) stops at Hartford Union Station on a daily basis. This train has bike racks and also handles bikes in boxes as baggage! Other Amtrak trains provide daily service to intermediate stations between Springfield and New Haven, as well as a daily train to Worcester & Boston (Folding Bicycles only!). Connecting service at New Haven include daily Amtrak Northeast Corridor Service to Boston, New York City, & Washington DC, daily Metro-North Railroad commuter train service to New York City and intermediate stops, and weekday rush Shore Line East trains to New London and intermediate stops.

Greyhound & Peter Pan Bus Lines stops at the intercity bus station near Hartford Union Station on a daily basis. 

Bicycles The New England Mountain Bike Association Web Site describes the mountain bike trails at the following places:

Railroad Abandonment Summary

Item From To Year RR Miles
220 Putnam Pomfret 1959 NH 4.3
248 North Windham Pomfret 1963 NH 14.0
258 Colchester Amston 1965 NH 4.0
260 Portland Columbia
1965 NH 25.0
278 Franklin Jct Klondike
1969 PC 31.9
361A North Windham Willimantic 1985 P&W 5.0

From the "Directory of Rail Abandonments 1848-1994" in the book Lost Railroads of New England, 2nd Ed. by Ronald Dale Karr, published by Branch Line Press in 1996.

Brief History of the Railroad

A brief histories are published as the following articles in The Rail Lines of Southern New England by Ronald Dale Karr, published by Branch Line Press in 1995.

The Great East Thompson Wreck  in the winter of 1891 was a calamity that saw no fewer than four trains come together in disastrous circumstances. In this article, Stephen Boothroyd recalls the events of "a bad day for the New York & New England RR."

1895 County Atlas - showing railroads [very slow loading]:

Sign images are from the Manual of Traffic Signs by Richard C. Moeur.

Updated on April 21, 2002 by Kenyon F. Karl <>.
  Unintentional errors are likely!

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