Author Topic: A View From Homer Hill  (Read 5434 times)

Roger Whitney

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A View From Homer Hill
« on: November 10, 2011, 02:47:03 PM »
   There were several quarries north of Monson Station of which there are quite a few pictures.  North of the station there was the Monson Pond, Eureka and Kineo to name a few. The road going down to the former Moosehead Furniture (Chapin Ave.) goes between Monson Pond and Kineo quarries. The furniture complex was the former slate finishing sheds. If you haven’t seen these huge holes in the ground, you really should take a look the next time you go through Monson.  They are a real sight to behold.  More on the quarries in a future blog.
        But the Monson also hauled a lot of slate from the Homer Hill operations too.  Homer Hill rises up on the northwest edge of the village about 140 feet above the village center. Hebron Pond, Dirigo and Eastern quarries (left to right) were located on the southeast slope. On page 11 of the Jones book there is one of my favorite pictures of the Monson.  It shows one of the Hinkleys along with the combine sitting up on Homer Hill.  This picture was taken facing the southwest. In the background is Russell Mountain in Blanchard about 6 miles away, and to the far left is Lake Hebron.  The date would be in the early wood burning years before 1900 because of the balloon stack of the loco.  
   How did the railroad get from the station on water street (807 feet elevation) to the Homer Hill quarries(947 feet elevation)?  The line to Homer Hill ran north of the station between the engine house and the car shed, curved slightly to the left, crossing Chapin Ave.  After crossing Chapin Ave. it passed Imperial quarry on the left and then crossed the Greenville Road which is now Route 6 and 15.  On the west side of the road is where the grade gets pretty steep.
         According to the map on page 137 of the Jones book, the grade made a steady left hand curve which eventually ended in two fishhook spurs to Hebron Pond and Dirigo quarries.  However in the picture, it looks like there is in fact a switchback.  The map is dated November 26, 1917, so many changes to the trackage probably happened to accomidate the expanding quarries.
         There must have been some interesting operational challenges operating this branch. Since Monson locomotives weren’t turned, they had to back up the steep Homer Hill branch (5%) which would create a potential low water problem in the boilers.  They must have had to carry the water pretty high to cover the crown sheets.  And then getting loaded flatcars DOWN the 5% grade must have provided some excitement at times.
          Today this is private property with an operating quarry up on the hill.  Driving by the site on the Greenville road, it is rather difficult to actually see where the grade was. However using Google Earth and the MyTopo Historical topo maps, you can pretty much follow where the right of way went up Homer Hill.

« Last Edit: November 10, 2011, 03:42:56 PM by Ed Lecuyer »

Ed Lecuyer

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Re: A View From Homer Hill
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2011, 03:50:14 PM »
[Mod's Note]
Made a correction to the resource for Historic Topo Maps. The official home of the collection is The Historic USGS Map Collection (compiled by Chris Marshall and others) is sponsored/hosted by my employer; we prefer traffic be directed to us and not to its former home at UNH. This (in part) keeps me employed, thus benefiting the WW&F!

Thanks!, back to the blog...
Ed Lecuyer
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Cliff Olson

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Re: A View From Homer Hill
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2011, 06:46:54 AM »
The photo from the Jones book appears to have been taken from slightly above the top of the Hebron Pond Quarry slate dump (probably from the adjacent Dirigo Quarry slate dump).  The "switchback" may have been the track from the Hebron Pond Quarry mill (out of sight to the left) to the edge of the dump, where newer waste slate was being dumped. The logs probably are the wood supply for the mill's boiler.  It's interesting that the combine is present, since the Hebron Pond Quarry is barely more than a half mile from the center of town (by road) - - perhaps the photo was staged for tourism purposes.

« Last Edit: November 14, 2011, 09:11:15 AM by Cliff Olson »