Mass-Central on the Central Massachusetts, June 26, 2013


An Antique NW5 Works Obscure Trackage.

On June 26, 2013, a variety of errands that brought me to Ware, Massachusetts. I knew the Mass-Central’s daily freight ought to be in the area, but I wasn’t sure where it was. (Pardon pun).

I checked Ware yard; not there. So I drove north along the line. Since it is my understanding that the railroad is expected to acquire some nicely painted GP38s, I was curious to see what engines were working that day.

No sign of the train at Gilbertville, so I continued northward along Route 32 toward Creamery. My sixth sense was tingling. I knew the train was close.


Abandoned railroad.
Looking railroad east on the old Central Massachusetts line. This was once a through route from Boston to Northampton. Hush! Was that a whistle? Lumix LX3 photo.

At Creamery,  Boston & Maine’s Central Massachusetts line once had a grade separated crossing with Boston & Albany’s Ware River Branch, and when B&M retrenched in the early 1930s,  a connection was built between the two lines just to the north (east) of this crossing.  Further retrenchment over the following decades resulted in almost complete abandonment of the Central Massachusetts line in the area.

Today, a portion of the Central Mass route at Creamery is now a rail trail. I paused at the trail, inspected a bit of an old cross-tie and then listened. . .  wind rustled in the trees, then in the distance I heard a low air whistle. I turned my head. It was coming from the south. Had I overtaken the train, or had I missed it?

A second blast, confirmed my suspicions; I’d missed the train between Gilbertville and Creamery.  I jumped in my car and headed briskly back toward Ware. I overtook the train a mile north of town.

At Ware, Mass-Central had some work at Kanzaki Specialty Papers—a customer served by a short surviving section of the former B&M line that connects with the B&A route south of Ware Yard.

Mass-Central NW5 2100 at Ware.
Mass-Central 2100 and 960 shove boxcars toward Kanzaki Paper on a surviving segment of the Central Massachusetts line at Ware, Massachusetts. In the 1970s, Mass-Central was created as a switching railroad to operate Boston & Maine trackage at Ware. Later it expanded operations over the former Boston & Albany Ware River Branch between Palmer and South Barre. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

I caught the train shoving down, then waited a few minutes for the locomotives to return. In this way I executed several  photos of the rare NW5 (one of just 13 built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division) on rare track

NW5 diesel.
Mass-Central on the Central Mass; NW5 2100 works toward Ware yard on June 26, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
Mass-Central NW5 2100
At Ware, Boston & Maine’s Central Massachusetts line ran parallel to Boston & Albany’s Ware River Branch; both lines remain at this grade crossing south (west) of Ware Yard. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

I could tick off that errand for the day! Mass-Central NW5, check.

Mass-Central 960
Mass-Central 2100 and 960 work back toward Ware Yard. Notice the grade crossing warning in the distance for Mass-Central’s former B&A Ware River Line. Imagine the day, long ago, when you could have seen 4-4-0s with passenger trains on both lines. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

See more Tracking the Light on the Mass-Central:

Mass-Central: Monday May 13, 2013

Mass-Central: Monday November 19, 2012

Also see: my Mass-Central article in March 2010 Trains Magazine

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