I spent a couple of days near Boston, MA this week, but due to some room availability problems, my two nights had to be split across two hotels. The first night, I stayed in Woburn (that’s pronounced woo-burn – don’t ask me why). Then I moved up to Burlington. As often happens, there was a gap between check-out and check-in. It’s Thursday, so you know how that time was spent.
On my way out of Woburn, I stopped in at the Woburn Historical Society. That visit will be the subject of a different post, but a wonderful woman gave me some advice as to where I might find some interesting doors. One of the places listed was the nearby Bedford Train Depot.
Bedford, MA was a key junction of the two branches of the Boston and Maine Railroad. The depot dates to 1874 and the adjacent freight house dates to 1877. They are both on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). In addition to these two buildings, a restored Budd Rail Diesel Car are the attractions at the Bedford Depot Park. Unfortunately, the NRHP records for Bedford, MA have not been digitized, so I am left with sources of questionable quality…yeah, that place.
In addition to the Boston and Maine Railroad, Bedford was also one of the hubs for the Billerica and Bedford Railroad, an early narrow-gauge railroad in Massachusetts, built to demonstrate the advantages of a 2 ft (610 mm) gauge railroad. In fact, one source claims this was the first such railroad in the United States. Unfortunately, that railroad ultimately failed. After the failure of the narrow-gauge railroad, the right-of-way was used for a standard-gauge train service as part of the Boston and Lowell Railroad. That railroad was absorbed by a competitor, The Boston & Maine Railroad. The B&M operated passenger and freight service for over 40 years. Passenger service stopped in the early 1930s. The line continued to carry freight but was partially abandoned in the early 1960s and completely so by 1980. There was a brief attempt to use the line as part of the greater Boston commuter rail system, but according to the Bedford Depot’s web site:
January 10, 1977 – A snowstorm blocks the Lexington Branch and the 5:30 P.M. train from North Station to Bedford has difficulty reaching its destination over the unplowed route. After days of no Lexington Branch service, the MBTA announced that it is discontinuing commuter rail service on the line.
1991 – The Lexington Branch is formally “railbanked” (not abandoned) in order to permit construction of the Minuteman Bikeway.
January 28, 1998 – The railroad returns to Bedford, in a manner of speaking, when former B&M Rail Diesel Car #6211 is brought to town for static display at the future Bedford Depot Park.
And, according to Wikipedia:
The depot and freight house were sold by the B&M to private businesses in the 1950s, and a second story was added to the depot in the 1960s. The town of Bedford purchased both in 1999, following a four-year effort by the Friends of Bedford Depot Park, and restored them as the centerpieces of the Bedford Depot Park. They were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 as part of the Bedford Depot Park Historic District. The freight house received a $350,000 renovation from 2006 to 2008 and serves as a museum run by the Friends; the depot continues to house private businesses.
This post is part of Norm Frampton’s fun weekly blogfest known as Thursday Doors. Each week, door aficionados from around to world find, photograph, organize and present interesting doors. If you want to participate, or if you just want to see more doors, visit Norm’s page. As for me, The Depot was closed the day I visited, but I was able to walk around the buildings and the Rail Diesel Car #6211. I hope you enjoy the gallery.