Twenty or thirty years ago I remember my dad and I talking about the Grand Trunk railroad, or more accurately the Southern New England Railroad. I recall saying something about none of the bridges ever being completed. He told me that was wrong and there was one that he used to jump off when he was a kid. For some reason, I always thought this bridge was in Sturbridge where the line crossed the Quinebaug.
The Southern New England railroad, a.k.a. the railroad that never was has always fascinated me. In my last post, I showed some of the “bones” that still remain to be seen throughout my hometown of Southbridge. Today I have some more to share.
This is the best time of year to go searching for bones in the woods, although as I have learned they aren’t always in the woods. The snow is gone, the leaves have yet to leaf out and anything that fell during autumn is packed down leaving a clear view of what there is to be seen.
Driving through Southbridge and surrounding communities you will see the ruins of the railroad that never was. Known locally as the “Grand Trunk Railroad” it’s real name was the Southern New England Railroad (SNE). Legend has it that it was abandoned soon after
it was begun due to the death of Charles Hayes, the president of the Grand Trunk railroad in Canada, who wanted to build a rail line connecting Providence, RI to Canada. Unfortunately for Mr. Hayes, he was a passenger on the ill-fated Titanic. This legend is just that, a legend. While Mr. Hayes did indeed perish on the Titanic in 1912, the building of the railroad wasn’t commenced until 1914.
Do we ever really know what is under our feet? Do we know what is in our backyard? Do we know who came before us?
I have always been fascinated with local history. Growing up in Southbridge, MA,
a New England mill town, I have always looked at my surroundings and wondered about what came before. Wherever I travel I always look at the landscape, the roads, the stores, the houses and try to read the stories they have to tell.
Travel through almost any town in Northeastern, the Mid-Atlantic or the Mid-west and you are bound to come across an abandoned rail line and associated buildings.
In my home town we have one actual railroad (N.Y. & N.H.) and a second that was begun but never finished (Southern New England). Today we will begin by looking at the one that actually saw service on the now abandoned rails.
Orginially chartered as the Southbridge & Blackstone in 1849 but was not built until 1866 – 1867. By this time
it was owned by the Boston, Hartford and Erie (BH&E). This line was a spur track and never generated the traffic hoped for.