Southern New England RR – The railroad that never was

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

Southern New England Railroad Abandoned Railroads
Hidden Culvert

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.

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Moses and His Mill

southbridge

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,

southbridge
Central Mills, 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.

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Rails to Nowhere

New Haven RR Railroad Signal Southbridge

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

New Haven Southbridge
An abandoned section of the New York, New Haven and Hartford

it was owned by the Boston, Hartford and Erie (BH&E).  This line was a spur track and never generated the traffic hoped for.

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