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Messages - Ben Rockney

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On Saturday morning April 13th, a few of us are planning a free and informal walk in Billerica, MA along some of the remaining portions of the right-of-way of the Billerica and Bedford Railroad – the 2' gauge railroad that started it all.  A who's who of railroad and local historians will be joining us: Don Ball, the author of George Mansfield and the Billerica and Bedford Railroad, is flying out from Kansas City and Ronald Karr, author of The Lost Railroads of New England will be there.  Add to that Jim Shea, President of the B&B preservation group Friends of Bedford Depot Park, and our own Dave B. and Philip Marshall.

The 8 mile B&B was built in 1877 and went bankrupt only nine months later.  Its two Forneys, rolling stock, and rails were moved up to Franklin County to jumpstart the Sandy River Railroad.  Back in Massachusetts, most of the B&B ROW was built over in 1885 by the standard gauge Boston & Lowell Railroad, obliterating the original narrow gauge roadbed. But three miles of the original B&B that looped around Billerica Center were bypassed in the construction of the more direct Boston & Lowell. Much of that bypassed section was buried under housing developments in the 20th century and lost to history, but there are still a handful of interesting sections where a hundred yards or more of the original B&B can be clearly seen running through quiet woods. 

Those are the sections we'll be exploring – think suburban archeology rather than a rail trail walk.  We've cleared out some of the underbrush on these sections so the sight lines are good.  A photo of the NG ROW at its southern point of divergence from the SG is shown here to give you an example of what things look like today.

If you would like to join us that day, please let me know at .  I'll send you further details on our meeting place and send along some Google Earth files so you can see where we'll be walking and even follow along on your cell phone as we walk.

Work and Events / Re: B&SR boxcar 56
« on: October 19, 2018, 01:06:24 PM »
To answer Dave's question from a few minutes ago, I am quite sure the second B&W photo shows the grandstand for the baseball field at Bridgton Junction in the background.  It appears in many photos from the latter days of the B&SR and still stands today.  It is the white building dead center in this view from Google Earth.

The Original W&Q and WW&F: 1894-1933 / Re: Fred Fogg
« on: March 20, 2017, 08:48:12 PM »
Here are some names, dates, places of residence, and occupations for Fred H. Fogg from the US Censuses.  The first date is the date of the census, which was collected every 10 years starting in 1790.  The 1890 census for the entire country was lost in a fire and so is missing.  Numbers in parentheses are ages at the time of the census.

1860 Jordan L. Fogg (28) and Sophronia P. Fogg (27) Richmond, Sagadahoc County, Maine [Fred H. Fogg should have been recorded but was omitted from the family for some reason]

1870 Fred H. Fogg  (11) Bowdoinham, Sagadahoc County, Maine Parents: Jordan L. Fogg (37) and Sophroniah Fogg (36)

1880 Fred Fogg (21) Topsham, Sagadahoc, Maine, Farmer, Wife: Etta Fogg (22)

1900 Fred H. Fogg  (41) Gardiner Ward 6, Kennebec County, Maine, Baggage Master RR, Born January 1859, Wife: Etta M. Fogg (42)

1910 Fred H. Fogg  (52) Gardiner Ward 6, Kennebec County, Maine, Yardmaster/Railroad, Wife: Etta Fogg (52)

1920 Fred H. Fogg  (60) Gardiner Ward 6, Kennebec, County, Maine, Crossing Tender/Railroad, Wife: Mary C. (59)

Fred H. Fogg Birth January 6, 1859, Death November 18, 1926 Buried South Gardiner, Kennebec County, Maine

Hi all,
In 2005, Bob Troup, with the SR&RL group, wrote on a Yahoo discussion group, "Well, it was there in the early 1980s. You can add Chris Coyle's and my names to the list of those who saw it.  Don't know if it still exists.  No, it was not the runaround.  Clearly a stub siding that ran off at an angle away from Rapid Stream, somewhat south of the mill.  It consisted of 5 pieces of 40 pound iron still joint barred together (3 lengths on one side, two on the other, hence about 90 ft).  It is not on any map/track plan that I have seen.  I assume it was abandoned before the 1916 survey, which would explain its lack of documentation.  Probably buried in leaves/ground cover at the time of scrapping."

Last fall I walked into Soules Mill to look for the abandoned track but didn't find it.  The area is interesting to explore in any case.  The ROW is easy to find and the foundation to the saw mill and a large concrete block on which the saw rested are still there.  I didn't see a foundation in the area of the office, but there was a large pit there as well as a thick taut guy wire running along the ground that was associated with the bridge shown on the 1916 track map over the adjacent Rapid Stream.

Speaking of the track map, I have transferred that map to a Google Earth file that shows the ROW on top of the current topography.  It's very useful to get one's bearings as you walk around with a smart phone.  The alignment with the remaining structures mentioned above is perfect.  I'd be happy to send the .kmz file to anyone interested.  The line was abandoned in 1924.  As an alternative to Bob's conjecture above, it's also possible the short spur was installed between the time of drawing the 1916 map and the 1924 scrapping.

I'm tentatively planning to return on Sunday August 16th with more time, a metal detector, and a better idea of where to look after talking with Bob.

Bridgton & Saco River Railway / Re: Junction ROW
« on: September 05, 2013, 07:10:57 AM »
Hi Rob,
You didn't happen to take a photo as well of the track/ROW map at Bridgton Depot, did you?  I used a similar photo of the Bridgton Junction to create an overlay of the tracks, buildings, and roads at Bridgton Junction (see my post under the topic Bridgton Junction on Google Earth).  It turned out really well and provides a GPS-ready view of where things once were on today's topography. 

Bridgton & Saco River Railway / Re: Bridgton Junction on Google Earth
« on: September 03, 2013, 06:44:10 AM »
Hi All,
I'm sorry some of you are having trouble getting the .kmz file to open in Google Earth.  I don't have a lot of experience (not any, really) with uploading files to GE so I'm open to advice.  I'll try to figure something out...perhaps I could further reduce the resolution of the overlay I created, though I don't want it to start looking blocky and in theory a 2 MB .kmz file should be able to be handled by GE.  But enough of you are having trouble to show the problem is real.  I'm open to advice on this.

While I work things out, I would be happy to send the .kmz file to any of you directly as an email attachment, which would get around any problems related to downloading the file from the GE link.  You see my name to the left of this post.  My email address is just a concatenation substituting my name into the following: . Drop me an email and I'll send the file to you.

For the record, this is my experience so far opening the file through the link from various devices I have access to :

modern Windows laptop running Windows 7 and GE 7.1.1: works
MacBook Air running OSX 10.8.4 and GE 7.1.1: works
iPad2: my brother says it works
iPad1: reports GE is running low on memory and the top of the overlay where the ROW crosses the highway is missing, but it opens
iPhone 4S running iOS 6.1.3 and GE 7.1.1: works

Bridgton & Saco River Railway / Bridgton Junction on Google Earth
« on: September 02, 2013, 09:56:27 AM »
Hi all,
I've seen quite a number of posts dating from a few years ago under the topics "Locating Bridgton Junction" or "Visited the Junction."  I too visited The Junction in mid-July with my brother. Not having done a lot of research in advance, we were able to locate the main line, the turntable pit, the foundation of the Engine House, but really had no idea of how things were once arranged there and how the raised NG main line related to the rest of the yard.

Since then, I have received from the Bridgton Historical Society a good photograph of the original B&SR RR ROW and track map dating from 1916.  (Rob C. posted a similar photograph on February 22, 2013.)  I have superimposed the track, road, and building outlines on Google Earth.  The match with the terrain today is really striking.

A .kmz file that can be opened in Google Earth can be downloaded here from the Google Earth Community server:!topic/gec-history-illustrated/Yyn8xeBjeM8

The view shows the narrow gauge main line looping around from northeast to southeast to parallel the standard gauge line where freight and passengers could be transferred.  In the yard, note the turntable pit, the single stall engine house where engines were refilled with water, and the coal shed where they were refueled.  The original path of the highway was parallel to the yard and survives today as the dirt road named "Train Junction" on Bing Maps and Garmin GPS systems.  As trains left The Junction heading north, they crossed the highway and entered a steep uphill grade through what is today a gravel pit.  That rising grade along the road can easily be viewed in Google Maps' street view.  Mike F. and Duncan M. have photos of many of these places on NERAIL but this GE file should help getting oriented.  

After our July visit to The Junction, we followed the ROW up to Bridgton and then headed over to Weeks Mill and then down to Alna where we met my granddaughter and her parents for a first visit to the WW&F.  I can't tell you how impressed I was with the work you all are doing there and am looking forward to returning with them for the Victorian Christmas.

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