The Boston and Maine Railroad , also known by the abbreviation B&M, was the dominant railroad of the northern New England region of the United States for a century. It is now part of the Pan Am Railways network.
The Andover and Wilmington Railroad (map)
was incorporated March 15
to build a branch from the Boston and Lowell Railroad
at Wilmington, Massachusetts
north to Andover
. The line opened to Andover on August 8
. The name was changed to the Andover and Haverhill Railroad (map)
on April 18
, reflecting plans to build further to Haverhill
(opened later that year), and yet further to Portland, Maine
with the renaming to the Boston and Portland Railroad (map)
on April 3
, opening to the New Hampshire state line in 1840.
The Boston and Maine Railroad was chartered in New Hampshire on June 27, 1835, (map) and the Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts Railroad was incorporated March 12, 1839 in Maine, both companies continuing the proposed line to South Berwick, Maine. (map) The railroad opened in 1840 to Exeter, New Hampshire, and on January 1, 1842 the two companies merged with the Boston and Portland to form a new Boston and Maine Railroad.
On February 23, 1843 the B&M opened to Agamenticus, on the line of the Portland, Saco and Portsmouth Railroad in South Berwick. On January 28 of that year the B&M and Eastern Railroad came to an agreement to both lease the PS&P as a joint line to Portland.
The Boston and Maine Extension Railroad (map) was incorporated March 16, 1844, due to a dispute with the Boston and Lowell Railroad over trackage rights rates between Wilmington and Boston. That company was merged into the main B&M on March 19, 1845, and opened July 1, leading to the abandonment of the old connection to the B&L (later reused by the B&L for their Wildcat Branch). In 1848 another original section was abandoned, as a new alignment was built from Wilmington north to North Andover in order to better serve Lawrence.
A new alignment to Portland opened in 1873, splitting from the old route at South Berwick. The old route was later abandoned.
As the B&M grew, it also gained control of former rivals, including:
The Eastern Railroad
was leased by the B&M on December 23
. This provided a second route to Maine, as well as many local branches, ending competition along the immediate route between Boston and Portland.
Worcester, Nashua and Portland
The Worcester and Nashua Railroad
was organized in 1845 (opened 1848) and the Nashua and Rochester Railroad
in 1847, forming a line between Worcester, Massachusetts
and Rochester, New Hampshire
. The W&N leased the N&R in 1874, and the two companies merged into the Worcester, Nashua and Rochester Railroad
in 1883. The B&M leased the line on January 1
. This acquisition also included the continuation from Rochester to Portland, Maine
, incorporated in 1846 as the York and Cumberland Railroad
. It opened partially in 1851 and 1853, was reorganized as the Portland and Rochester Railroad
in 1867, and opened the rest of the way in 1871. It was again reorganized in 1881 and then operated in conjunction with the line to Worcester.
Boston and Lowell
On April 1
the B&M leased the Boston and Lowell Railroad
, adding not only trackage in the Boston
area, but also the Central Massachusetts Railroad
west to Northampton
, the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad
into northern New Hampshire
, the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad
to northwestern Vermont
, and the Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers Railroad
from White River Junction
. However, the BC&M was separated in 1889 and merged with the Concord Railroad
to form the Concord and Montreal Railroad
, which the B&M leased on April 1
, gaining the Concord Railroad's direct line between Nashua
. Additionally, the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad, owned by the B&M through stock, was leased to the Maine Central Railroad
by 1912. The Central Massachusetts Railroad
stayed a part of the B&M, as did the Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers Railroad
(as the Passumpsic Division).
The Northern Railroad
was leased to the Boston and Lowell in 1884, but that lease was cancelled and the Northern was on its own until 1890, when it was released to the B&L, then part of the B&M. The Northern owned a number of lines running west from Concord
On January 1
, the B&M leased the Connecticut River Railroad
with a main line from Springfield, Massachusetts
north along the Connecticut River
to White River Junction, Vermont
, where the Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers Railroad (map)
(acquired in 1887) continued north. Along with this railroad came the Ashelot Railroad (map)
which had been acquired in 1877.
Concord and Montreal
As discussed above, the B&M acquired the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad
in 1887, but gave it up in 1889, allowing it to merge with the Concord Railroad
to form the Concord and Montreal Railroad
. That company did poorly on its own, and was leased by the B&M on April 1
, giving the B&M the majority of lines in New Hampshire
The B&M leased the Fitchburg Railroad
on July 1
. This was primarily a main line from Boston west via the Hoosac Tunnel
to the Albany, New York
area, with various branches. On December 1 1919, the B&M purchased the Fitchburg Railroad.
At one point, the B&M also owned a majority of stock of the Maine Central Railroad, stretching from Quebec via northern New Hampshire to southern and eastern Maine.
The B&M flourished with the growth of New England's mill towns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but still faced financial struggles. It came under the control of J. P. Morgan and his New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad around 1910, but anti-trust forces wrested control back. Later it faced heavy debt problems from track construction and from the cost of acquiring the Fitchburg Railroad, causing a reorganization in 1919.
Beginning in the 1930s, freight business was hurt by the leveling off of New England manufacturing growth, and by new competition from trucking.
The popularization of the automobile doomed B&M as a passenger carrier. It cut its Troy, NY to Boston passenger service back to Williamstown, MA in January 1958 and gave up on long distance passenger service completely by 1965. It was able to continue Boston commuter service only by the aid of subsidies from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. In 1973 the MBTA bought the rolling stock and tracks near Boston from the ailing B&M. The B&M filed for bankruptcy in December 1970. During bankruptcy, the B&M reorganized, rebuilding its existing fleet of locomotives, leasing new locomotives and rolling stock, and securing funds to upgrade its track and signal systems. It limped along through the 1970s, and reportedly was on the brink of liquidation during 1973-1974. The B&M was offered to merge its properties into the new Conrail but opted out.
By 1980, though still a sick company, the B&M started turning around thanks to aggressive marketing and its purchase of a cluster of branch lines in Connecticut. The addition of coal traffic and piggyback service also helped. In 1983 the B&M emerged from bankruptcy when it was purchased by Timothy Mellon's Guilford Transportation Industries for $24 million. This was the beginning of the end of the Boston & Maine corporate image, and the start of major changes, such as the labor issues which caused the strikes of 1986 and 1987, and drastic cost cutting such as the 1990 closure of B&M's Mechanicville, NY site, the largest rail yard and shop facilities on the B&M system.
The Boston & Maine today
Technically, Boston & Maine Corporation still exists today but only as a non-operating ward of Pan Am Railways. Boston & Maine owns the property (and also employs its own railroad police), while Springfield Terminal operates the trains and maintenance, all owned by Pan Am Railways. This complicated operation is mainly due to more favorable labor agreements under Springfield Terminal's rules. Pan Am's failure to accomplish this same set up after buying the Delaware & Hudson Railway in 1984 is a direct cause of it being thrown into bankruptcy in 1988. It seems highly unlikely that the B&M will ever be spun off as an operating railroad.
In addition to the major systems described above, the B&M also built or leased many shorter lines.Medford
The Medford Branch Railroad
was incorporated in 1845 and absorbed by the B&M in 1846, opening in 1847. It provided a short connection from Medford Junction
center, which the Boston and Lowell Railroad
The Saugus Branch Railroad
was incorporated in 1848, opening in 1853 as a branch from the B&M at Edgeworth
. The Eastern Railroad
bought the line soon after and cut the connection to the B&M in 1855, connecting it instead to their new main line (the Grand Junction Railroad
) at Everett Junction
The Newburyport Railroad
was incorporated in 1846. It opened from Newburyport
on the Eastern Railroad
in 1849 and 1850, and west to the B&M at Bradford
in 1851. The Danvers and Georgetown Railroad
was organized in 1851 and opened in 1853, running from the Newburyport Railroad at Georgetown south to Danvers
on the Essex Branch Railroad
. Finally, the Danvers Railroad
was incorporated in 1852 and opened in 1855, continuing the line from Danvers southwest to the B&M in Wakefield
. The first two companies merged in 1855 to form a new Newburyport Railroad
. The B&M leased the Danvers Railroad in 1853, and the combined Newburyport Railroad in 1860, making the line from Wakefield to Newburyport the main line and the old line to Bradford a branch.Lowell
The Lowell and Andover Railroad
was organized in 1873, after the Boston and Lowell Railroad
's monopoly on Boston-Lowell service ended, and the line opened in 1874 from the B&M at Lowell Junction
west to Lowell
, immediately being leased to the B&M.Methuen/Manchester
The Methuen Branch Railroad
from the B&M in Lawrence
to the New Hampshire
state line opened in 1849. Concurrently, the Manchester and Lawrence Railroad
was chartered in 1847 and opened in 1849, continuing the line in New Hampshire to Manchester
. The company leased the Methuen Branch, and leased itself to the Concord Railroad
in 1850. That contract was terminated, and the B&M leased the line in 1887.Merrimac
The West Amesbury Branch Railroad
was organized in 1868 and opened in 1873, branching from the B&M at Newton Junction
in New Hampshire
to Merrimac, Massachusetts
(originally West Amesbury). The B&M immediately leased it.Alton Bay
The Cocheco Railroad
was chartered in 1847 and opened in 1849 and 1851, running from the B&M in Dover
to Alton Bay, New Hampshire
. It was reorganized in 1863 as the Dover and Winnipiseogee Railroad
and leased to the B&M. When the B&M leased the Concord and Montreal Railroad
in 1895, it acquired the Lake Shore Railroad
, a continuation past Alton Bay to the old Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad
mainline at Lakeport
The Somersworth Branch
, originally the Great Falls Branch, connected the main line at Rollinsford, New Hampshire
, where the Great Falls and Conway Railroad
(later part of the Eastern Railroad
system) continued north.Kennebunkport
The Kennebunk and Kennebunkport Railroad
was organized in 1882 and opened in 1883 as a branch of the B&M at Kennebunk, Maine
. It was immediately leased by the B&M.Orchard Beach
The Orchard Beach Railroad
was incorporated in 1876 as a branch from the B&M in Old Orchard Beach
to Camp Ellis
on the Saco River
. It opened in 1880 and the B&M bought it in 1893.
- Wall & Gray. 1871 Atlas of Massachusetts. Map of Massachusetts. USA New England Counties - Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden, Worcester, Middlesex, Essex, Boston Suffolk, Plymouth, Bristol, Barnstable and Dukes (Cape Cod) Cities - Springfield, Worcester, Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill, Newburyport, Salem, Lynn, Taunton, Fall River New Bedford These 1871 maps of the Counties and Cities are great to see the extent and names of the rail lines.
- 1872 Map of Massachusetts Plate 5 from the 1872 Atlas of Essex County by D.G. Beers. Click on the map for a very large image. This map shows the original Boston and Lowell Railroad route thru Wilmington, Woburn, and Medford. It also show the slightly later competing track of the Boston and Maine Railroad thru Andover, Reading, Wakefield, Melrose and the Wildcat connector in Wilmington. Also see more detailed map of Essex County Plate 7
- Boston & Maine Railroad Historical Society
- July 1, 1923 Official List - Officers, Agents and Stations
- Boston & Maine All-Time Pre-Guilford Diesel Roster
- Details and maps of Boston & Maine predecessor railroads