Bedford Depot Park – #ThursdayDoors

Bedford Depot as seen from the bike trail.

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.[3] They were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 as part of the Bedford Depot Park Historic District.[1] 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.

66 thoughts on “Bedford Depot Park – #ThursdayDoors

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    1. Thanks GP. The ironic thing is that I hated history in school. I want to blame that on the way it was taught, but I’m sure I shared in the process. Almost as soon as I was out of school, I started consuming history by tyring to gain an in-depth understanding of things. I have tons of books, but the Internet really opened up a new world. Reading things like your blog and visiting these sites and digging below the surface is fascinating to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. School did not have the best method of teaching history – nothing but names and dates to memorize for the following test. Like you said, it is the guts of the episode of history that keeps our interest.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish we had more extensive service in the US. I’m fortunate to live near the Northeast Corridor, which is the best service AMTRAK has, but I wish I could easily move about the country by rail.

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  1. There was much talk about reopening the AMTRAK station in our downtown, but, eventually, all talk was scrapped. We have a couple train stations, like yours, that we can visit but I would love to be able to ride on them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AMTRAK moves so slowly with their plans. We are supposed to get two more stops on the line that operates up and down the Connecticut River. One would be very nice to have, it goes to a very nice bike trail and I could take my bike and have a nice ride in between trains. I would love to be able to do that, but it’s been years in planning already. They keep talking about restoring service to Montreal, which would be a wonderful trip, but…

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  2. You must’ve been in your glory in this park. They sure keep the park in pristine condition. Thanks for the history lesson. I hope you’re able to visit on a weekend when you can explore more thoroughly.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great doors adventure, Dan. It must be fun to watch the reaction of people when you tell them about taking pictures of doors. I expect you’ve unknowingly created several converts, just through the wonderful whimsy of the idea.
    I know you were onboard the instant they said “train”. What a terrific place. The photos are fabulous. It has me itching to write another story with a train. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your train stories are wonderful. Supernatural trains 🙂

      I was so happy to find this place. The lady was so nice, between her office and the places she sent me, I think I’m good for three weeks. I need to go back when I can go inside.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Time well spent! The colors and design of the building are lovely and the history is neat. It would be neat to rent out that train car for something. I hope you get to go back on a week-end it’s open.

    I agree with GP we learn a lot through these door excursions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. I learn so much about these places, and it’s so interesting to me. This is where everything started, I’m just happy done if it remains. I look forward to be able to visit when I don’t have to cram it into an hour between meetings.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Super stop at the depot, Dan. A revisit when opened would be a good thing. I was amazed at the dents in the lead car. I suppose that was from hitting stuff when in operation. I hope not folks throwing things at the engine.

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    1. Thanks John. I would imagine they take a beating. The area seems well maintained and respected. Of course it only takes one idiot. I clearly need to go back to several of these places when I have more time and when they’re open.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The history you cover here is pretty typical of the plight of railroads right across the continent, which is kinda sad. When it’s done right, rail is a wonderful and effective way to travel. I really wish we in North America had done a better job of updating and upgrading rail service.
    Great post Dan :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So cool Dan. It’s a great train. I still have to post about our festival last week for the Great Train chase. The train rolled through the little city at least every thirty minutes. Not much train stuff actually IN the festival, but the renovated and reopened train depot was cool. That’s where the saucy old conductor let me yank his horn. 🙊😂🤦‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The Bedford Train Depot … just the sound of that makes me smile. Probably because I love trains and because that sounds close to Bedford Falls, the town at the heart of the legendary “It’s a Wonderful Life”, my favorite movie of all time. Good pics, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had that same thought, about Bedford Falls, Paul. I’ll chalk that up to “great minds thinking alike.” I love trains, train stations, restored freight houses, I even liked seeing the carts they have on display outside the buildings.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I liked that word, too. Apparently, it’s an official term. It’s means the trail conservancy can use the right-of-way, but the railroad can take it back if they need it in the future for rail service.

      This was so much better than sitting in a hotel lobby.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a pretty building! Yellow doesn’t always work, but that yellow certainly works there. But why am I always disappointed when a renovated building is something other than a restaurant that serves beer? Why?

    Liked by 1 person

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