A potential Rail-Trail

Mileage Chart & Detailed Trail Information

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.  


Station Name Settlement Municipality
0.00 Ayer Ayer Ayer
3.76 West Groton West Groton Groton
4.62 Vose Vose Groton
8.26 Townsend Harbor Townsend Harbor Townsend
10.07 Townsend Townsend Townsend
11.69 West Townsend West Townsend Townsend, MA
16.25 Mason Mason Mason, NH
19.11 Pratt Pratt Mason
23.68 Greenville Greenville  Greenville, NH 

* = 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 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.  

Railroad Abandonment Summary

Item From To Year RR Miles
322 Townsend
[0.7 mi W]
Greenville, NH 1979 B&M 12.9
B&M = Boston & Maine Railroad
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.

Railroad Operational Status

Name Endpoints Miles Status
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.

Brief History of the Railroad

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.

This page was updated on July 15, 2000 by Kenyon F. Karl <>. Unintentional errors are likely!
Sign images are from the Manual of Traffic Signs by Richard C. Moeur.

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