Brian’s Cosmic Place: B&A Washington Hill, the fabled 1912 Line Relocation

One of my favorite places to experience railroading and expose photos is on the old Boston & Albany ‘West End,’ Washington Hill grade.

On this legendary grade, one of the most interesting places is the 1912 line relocation between mileposts 129 and 130, west of Chester, Massachusetts. This includes a very deep cutting, while the right of way of the original 1839-built line is nearby and features three large stone arches dating from the time of construction.

Bob Buck first showed me this cosmic piece of railroad back in 1982.

I visited this hallowed ground last week and exposed these views with my FujiFilm X-T1. To accentuate the autumn foliage and make for more pleasing scenes, I set the white balance to ‘shade’ which warms up the scene.

New York Central abandoned about a mile of the original Western Rail Road grade when it completed its line relocation in 1912. This one of three extant stone arch bridge on the abandoned section.
New York Central abandoned about a mile of the original Western Rail Road grade when it completed its line relocation in 1912. This one of three extant stone arch bridge on the abandoned section.
Like the ruins of an ancient empire, this historic stone arch looms above the West Branch Westfield River deep in the forest near Middlefield, Massachusetts.
Like the ruins of an ancient empire, this historic stone arch looms above the West Branch Westfield River deep in the forest near Middlefield, Massachusetts.
An eastward doublestack train, probably Q022, descends the 1912 line relocation near milepost 123.3. The stone arch bridge pictured above is just out of sight to the right.
An eastward doublestack train, probably Q022, descends the 1912 line relocation near milepost 123.3. The stone arch bridge pictured above is just out of sight to the right.

CSXT was kind enough to send an eastward stack train down grade mid-morning.

I’ll feature this territory in my Boston & Albany book, which I hope to complete writing in the coming months.

Tracking the Light posts daily!

 

 

4 thoughts on “Brian’s Cosmic Place: B&A Washington Hill, the fabled 1912 Line Relocation”

  1. Well, it looks like I didn’t miss you by very much, for I too found myself at this same outcropping last week. It’d been a location at the top of my bucket list for a long time, (ironically, inspired by your work featured in “The New York Central in New England, Vol. II”), I always knew roughly of the area that it was in but never seemed to walk far enough from Bancroft to get there. As I quickly found out last week, there is no mistaking the place upon reaching the cut. I was pleasantly surprised to find the view still available, well, the view looking westward at least, and I as well (with a whole lot of dumb luck) was awarded with a well-timed eastbound during my short tenure here before the onset of the setting sun beckoned me back down. It’s one hell of an experience witnessing the passage of a train here, and was well worth the effort undertaken to make such an experience possible. Glad to see that I’m not the only individual that fully grasps the unbelievable aura that is this mountain crossing. I will definitely be a frequent reader from here on out. Fantastic stuff, Brian.

    1. Mike, you can thank the late Bob Buck, who introduced me(and a great many others) to this fascinating part of the Boston & Albany. I’ve researched this line thoroughly, and hope to include the details of its planning and construction in my book that I’ll begin writing soon. All the best, Brian Solomon.

  2. You don’t expect to see abandoned infrastructure like this in the USA, at least if you’re European. Could be Ireland, the UK, or one of many countries on the Continent. Great pictures at a perfect time of year.

  3. Nice pics. Brings back memories of many railfanning trips up there, because of Bob Buck. Hard to believe he’s been gone four years now.

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