The following railroad mileage chart also serves as a table of contents for the detailed rail-trail information and associated pictures. Each page begins with the historic name of the former railroad station, and continues with available information about the trail on either side of that railroad station, to a point roughly half-way to the next railroad station.
|3.76||West Groton||West Groton||Groton|
|8.26||Townsend Harbor||Townsend Harbor||Townsend|
|11.69||West Townsend||West Townsend||Townsend, MA|
* = Railroad Miles from Ayer
Italics = beyond the limits of the current Rail-trail proposal
Dark face = telegraph station in 1923
Mileage and Station Names from the Official List of Officers, Agents and Stations of the Boston & Maine Railroad, July 1,1923.
The Webmaster was able to perform a rather quick field check of this railroad line at all of the public road crossings in the early evening of July 7, 2000:
The tracks were obviously in use between Ayer and the Groton Shirley Road to service a public warehouse visible from Route 2A.
The tracks were intact but very rusty from lack of use between the Groton Shirley Road and Vose. Indeed, sparse weed coverage at the West Groton crossing suggested that this segment has been out of service for only a year or two.
All of the road crossings have been paved over between Townsend Harbor and Old Turnpike Road in West Townsend. Indeed, it is surprising that the rails and ties are still intact under the very heavy growth of trees in West Townsend, and likewise under the weeds near the former Townsend Depot.
A long section of the railroad line north of the New Hampshire State Line has been converted into the Mason Rail-Trail.
The Webmaster accordingly advocates a rail-trail conversion that begins at the New Hampshire State Line, traverses the Townsend State Forest, then runs southeast through the town of Townsend. The trail would then continue alongside the Squannacook River Wildlife Management Area to a convenient point for a trail exit a short distance north of Vose.
A temporary on-road bike route would be substituted for the section between Vose and the Groton Shirley Road until such time as the ultimate fate of that section of railroad can be decided. A section of relatively permanent on-road bike route is clearly needed south of the Groton Shirley Road so that trail users can reach the MBTA commuter rail station in Ayer.
[0.7 mi W]
|Greenville Branch (B&M)||Ayer-West Townsend||12.0||MBTA owned but not operated|
|Greenville Industrial Track||Ayer-Townsend||10.0||Guilford Rail System has Trackage Rights
Entire line is currently out of service
From the book Trackside New England 2000 written and published by Mike Clements in 2000.
A brief history of the Peterborough & Shirley was published as Article #43 in The Rail Lines of Southern New England by Ronald Dale Karr, published by Branch Line Press in 1995.
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