Portsmouth & Fremont Branch Rail-Trails

Hiking Trail Bicycle Trail Cross-Country Skiing Snowmobiling Horse Trail

 Bureau of Trails
Division of Parks & Recreation

NH Dept. of Resources & Econ. Dev.
PO Box 1856, Concord, NH 03302-1856
Phone 603-271-3254 - FAX 603-271-2629
Local coordination provided by:
Rockingham Recreational Trail Association,
Chair, Eathan Howard,
C/O Manchester Water Works,
1581 Lake Shore Rd, Manchester NH 03109
Phone: 603-624-6482

Portsmouth Branch Rail-Trail

25.3 miles - open for public use

Miles*** Station Municipality
? [Lake Shore Rd]  
5.02 Massabesic Auburn
6.03 Severance Auburn
7.57 Auburn Auburn
11.33 Candia Candia
13.58 East Candia Candia
15.63 Onaway Lake Raymond
17.49 Raymond Raymond
20.86 West Epping Epping
23.15 Epping Epping
26.01 Hedding Epping
27.03 Littlefield Newfields
30.45 Rockingham Newfields

Fremont Branch Rail-Trail

4.4 miles - open for use

Miles** Station Municipality
69.59 Fremont Fremont
74.03 Epping Epping

*** Railroad Miles from Manchester
** Railroad Miles from Worcester
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

Books about the Trail:

A 25.5 mile section of the Portsmouth Branch Rail-trail from Manchester (Massabesic Lake) to Newfields (Rockingham Jct) is described in section 20 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. Note that the 6 mile section of the Fremont Branch Rail-Trail is briefly described in Section K of this book.

GPS Waypoint File

Most rail-trails are so easy to follow that there is virtually no risk of inadvertantly wandering off the trail. Since these trails usually traverse well populated areas, usage of a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receiver on a rail-trail can not be justified for reasons of personal safety. Nevertheless, such a receiver might be useful in monitoring ones progress along the particularly rural sections of a rail-trail, precisely note particular points along the trail for a variety of reasons, or provide a basis for choosing the wisest course of action in a variety of emergency situations.

By definition, a rail-trail utilizes the roadbed of an abandoned railroad line. Since the precise locations of these old lines are usually well documented on USGS Topographical maps, waypoint files for rail-trails are particularly easy to create, particularly when these maps have been reproduced on a carefully calibrated CD-ROM. Accordingly, the following GPS Waypoint file has been created from the USGS topographic maps on the TopoScout CD-ROM. However, users must be aware that this file can easily contain unintentional errors!

This GPS Waypoint file is intended use with Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receivers while on the trail. Accordingly, the file contains the latitude and longitude of each station or other important point along the trail, in a text format intended for use with the Waypoint+ program by Brent Hildebrand. Unfortunately, this software will only run on Windows 95 computers and it currently exchanges data only with Garmin GPS receivers. Other users may be able to use this program to convert this file to a more desirable format, or use a common spreadsheet program to easily reformat this file for their particular needs. Because of the obvious popularity of a program that is free and easily available on the Web, the Webmaster anticipates that this particular format will eventually become widely accepted standard for exchanging waypoint data among all GPS users!

Users of this file must note that each Waypoint has been given a unique and mnemonic short name that meets the logistical requirements of a GPS typical receiver. Furthermore, all of the waypoints for a given rail-trail has been given a standard prefix so that these names will not conflict with other waypoints that the user may have loaded in the receiver at any given moment. Because of the cryptic nature of these waypoint names, the complete name of each waypoint has been entered into the corresponding comment field. Note also that the comment field for railroad stations also includes its railroad milepost location so that this mileage information is readily available to the trail user.

Finally, this waypoint data has been organized into a route that correspond to the course of the trail. Furthermore, the list of waypoints may be broken up into two or more routes, if such is required to accommodate important side trails or the necessary sectionalization of the main trail.

Last but not least, this simple text file can also be viewed with any Web Browser so that other folks can easily read the geographical coordinates of these particularly important points along the trail.

AT&T Fibre Optics Cable

The American Telephone & Telegraph Company has buried a fibre optic cable along one edge of the entire length of the Rail-trail. The approximate course of this underground cable is marked by orange plastic marker posts every 500 to 700 feet. Each of these posts is marked with a unique number, and its precise location has been recorded in a computerized database for quick access. Because of the great importance of this cable to a wide variety of telecommunications users across New England, all trail users are strongly urgen to take note of any potential threats to this underground cable. Such reports must include the unique number of the nearest orange marker post, and be reported by telephone call to the listed toll-free telephone number (1-800-252-1133) at the first opportunity.

Trail users must also note the presence of a small building every 26 miles (more or less) that houses all of the electronic equipment necessary to the proper functioning of the fibre optic cable. Any damage or potential threats to these buildings and associated power supply must likewise be reported in the same way.

Any significant damage to any part of the trail surface or underlying railroad bed will also threaten the buried telephone cable. Trail users are accordingly urged to also use this toll-free telephone number (1-800-252-1133) to report significant trail damage (or threat thereof) - even if the damage does not seem to affect the buried telephone cable. In any event, AT&T must be specifically asked to pass the information on to the State Bureau of Trails so that the damage (or threat thereof) to the trail itself can be fixed in a timely manner.

Finally, if an accident, crime, or suspected criminal activity is reported to the police, the unique number of the nearest orange marker post should used to indicate the approximate location of whatever is reported. The police will thus be able to use this toll-free telephone number (1-800-252-1133) to obtain the precise location of the sprecified orange marker post that is mentioned in your report.

Last but not least, volunteer trail workers must call this toll-free telephone number (1-800-252-1133) before they begin any significant construction or maintenance work to insure that their project will not harm the buried cable in any way!

Railroad Abandonment Summary

Item From To Year RR Miles
334 East Manchester Rockingham Jct. 1982 B&M 27.2
335 Epping Fremont 1982 B&M 3.5

B&M - Boston & Maine Railroad

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

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

Printed Information about the trail

The Fremont Branch Trail is described in Great Rail Trails of the Northeast by Craig Della Penna as an extension to the Rockingham Recreational Trail. 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.

Executive Council Actions:

August 9, 2000 - DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION - #167 Authorized to enter into a new lease agreement with Raymond Historical Society, PO Box 94, Raymond, NH for 4,000 square feet of the State-owned portion of the Portsmouth Branch Railroad Line in the Town of Raymond for a period of ten years for considerations received.

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

Updated on August 07, 2001 by Kenyon F. Karl <Webmaster@new-england-rail-trails.org>.
  Unintentional errors are likely!

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