Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad

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Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad
Locale Massachusetts
Dates of operation 1875–1940
Track gauge 3 ft (914 mm)
2-4-4 Mason Bogie locomotive #6 as built in 1886.
Crescent Beach Station in 1910
BRB&L ferry in 1920

The Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad was a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge passenger-carrying short line railroad between East Boston and Lynn, Massachusetts from 1875 to 1940.

It was chartered May 5, 1874, opened July 29, 1875, and abandoned January 27, 1940. A ferry connection from the railroad's southern terminus at East Boston connected to Rowes Wharf in the city of Boston proper, with a connection to the Atlantic Avenue Elevated (from 1901 to 1938). The railroad followed the coastline north-eastward through the resort of Revere Beach to the far terminus at Lynn. A branch split to a loop through Winthrop.

It had 8.8-mile (14.2-kilometre) of track.

History[edit]

The rail laid was light, 30-pound per yard (15 kg/m) rail being installed at first, increased to 50 lb/yd (25 kg/m) in 1885 and 60 lb/yd (30 kg/m) in 1904. It was, however, laid from the beginning on standard gauge-sized ties. Given the lightweight rail, the locomotives were small and of 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge dimensions. The vast majority of them were Mason Bogies, 11 from the Mason Machine Works and a further 21 from other builders after Mason closed. Cars were of 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge dimensions, seating four across.

Between 1896 and 1900, the section from Revere Beach to Point of Pines, formerly running along the beach, was relocated inland to lie next to the Eastern Railroad's Chelsea Beach Branch.[1] The stations were moved and a new one (Bath House) was built. Revere Beach Boulevard was built later along the former route.

The railroad was highly successful, carrying commuters into Boston and the Boston urban population to the seaside resorts. By 1914 over seven million passengers were carried annually, making it one of the most heavily traveled stretches of railroad in North America. With such a traffic density, the expense of electrification could be easily recouped. By 1928, all existing cars were fitted with electric motors, trolley poles, and control stands and the steam locomotives were disposed of. However, the Great Depression and increased use of the automobile ultimately caused ridership to decline.

After attempts to find a buyer fell through, the BRB&L filed for bankruptcy in 1937. Further losses of ridership followed, and in 1939 the management petitioned for abandonment. This was granted, and the railroad ceased operations on January 27, 1940.

The right-of-way from East Boston to Revere, a length of 4.3 miles, was used in 1952–1954 to build part of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Blue Line rapid transit line. The remainder of the right-of-way is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and may be used for further expansion of the Blue Line. South of the Blue Line's section, the line passed through where Logan Airport is now and a now-abandoned tunnel under a hill.

A number of the passenger cars were purchased by the East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania, where they survive. The line's Orient Heights Car shop also survives, having been converted to a casket factory after the closure of the line.

Winthrop sections[edit]

On July 1, 1891, the BRB&L merged with the 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge Boston, Winthrop and Shore Railroad. The BW&S was itself a consolidation on December 11, 1883 of the Boston, Winthrop and Point Shirley Railroad and Eastern Junction, Broad Sound Pier and Point Shirley Railroad.

Boston, Winthrop and Point Shirley Railroad[edit]

The BW&PS was organized in 1874 and opened a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge line on June 7, 1877. This line split from the BRB&L at Winthrop Junction and headed east and south for 2.55 miles (4.10 km) to Winthrop Center. In 1882 the part heading south was closed and a new line was built east to Ocean Spray and south to Point Shirley

Eastern Junction, Broad Sound Pier and Point Shirley Railroad[edit]

The EJBSP&PS was chartered 1880 and built a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge line from the Eastern Railroad's Chelsea Beach Branch near Crescent Beach southeast via eastern Winthrop to Point Shirley. South of Ocean Spray, this was just east of the BW&PS.

Post-merger[edit]

In 1885, after the merger, sections of line were abandoned. The loop as it existed until 1940 was built in 1888. It used the full original alignment of the BW&PS (including the 1882-abandoned section), as well as the extension between Ocean Spray and Winthrop Beach. The rest was built brand new, with a longer route between the split and Ocean Spray to serve Winthrop Highlands, and a new route between Winthrop Center and Winthrop Beach.

Station listing[edit]

1939 map of the BRB&L
MBTA Blue Line
BRB&L
Proposed Lynn
Lynn
West Lynn
Saugus River
Point of Pines
Oak Island
Revere Street
Wonderland
Bath House
Revere Beach
Crescent Beach
Beachmont
Beachmont
Suffolk Downs
Belle Isle
Orient Heights Yard
Winthrop Loop
Orient Heights
Orient Heights
Harbor View
Inbound
Wood Island
East Boston
Boston Harbor
Rowes Wharf

Winthrop Branch[edit]

This is going clockwise around the loop. The loop tracks split from the main line just north of Orient Heights, turned east and then split with one direction heading east and the other south. Much of the rail's path was converted to roads when the line was removed, but you can still see some of the existing railbed that curved out into Crystal Cove at Winthrop Beach Station, and the remnants of the rail bridges as it crossed Belle Isle March to connect at Orient Heights. Today, one can drive along Veteran's Road (current path of the old line) to experience the course of the commuter train as it ran parallel to Shirley Street. The location of the various railway stations in Winthrop had a tremendous influence on the pattern of Winthrop's suburban growth; business and commerce grew up naturally around these stations and ultimately into what would become today's neighborhoods.

Station Notes
Pleasant Street This station was located at the very north end of Pleasant Street as it meets Belle Isle Terrace, on the site of what is now part of a boat storage yard.
Battery Station was located at the intersection of Banks Street and Wilshire Street, on the site of what is now a gravel parking lot for a warehouse.
Winthrop Highlands Station was located at the current location of Crest Avenue Playground; the depot was approximately where the jungle gym is today.
Ocean Spray Was located on the corner of Shirley St. and what is today Veteran's Road, approximately on the site of the used car dealership.
Playstead Station existed off of Shirley street across from its intersection with Pearl St.
Winthrop Beach Station existed at the corner of Shirley and what is now Washington St., approximately where DiParma's restaurant currently is.
Thornton Station existed at the very southern end of Winthrop Street on the beach side of Pleasant, all the way down the hill, just past and to the right of the road. If you walk down into the brush there, you can see remnants of the rail bed next to the waters edge, heading towards Crystal Cove.
Winthrop Center Station was approximately where the Winthrop Center circle is today. A 12-foot portion of the old track was inexplicably left behind here, and can be seen preserved and embedded in the asphalt of Hagman Road (which follows the track line today). In addition, one of the steel electric power supports remains as well; it can be located protruding from the sidewalk at the corner near the track remnant. An historical marker mounted next to the steel support provides some information about Winthrop's train history.
Ingalls This station was located on the south corner of Walden street at Short Street. The line at this point ran alongside Walden Street on the west side of the road.

Steam Locomotive Roster[edit]

Number Name Builder Type Date Works number Notes
1st # 1 Orion Mason Machine Works 0-4-4T 1873 508 Built as North and South of Georgia - Sold to Nantucket Railroad #1 Sconset 1888[2]
2nd # 1 Hinkley Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1879 Sold to Nantucket Railroad #1 1901[2]
3rd # 1 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1903 27801 Scrapped 1929[2]
1st # 2 Pegasus Mason Machine Works 0-4-6T 1875 549 Burned at Winthrop Junction (Orient Heights) and scrapped 1896[2]
2nd # 2 Manchester Locomotive Works 2-4-4T 1899 1707 Scrapped 1929[2]
1st # 3 Jupiter Mason Machine Works 0-4-4T 18975 550 Leased to the Boston, Winthrop & Shirley Railroad in 1883, burned at Winthrop Junction (Orient Heights) and scrapped 1896[2]
2nd # 3 Manchester Locomotive Works 2-4-4T 1899 1708 Scrapped 1929[2]
1st # 4 Mercury Porter Bell & Company 2-4-0 1876 Leased to the Boston, Winthrop & Shirley Railroad in 1878, burned at Winthrop Junction (Orient Heights) and scrapped 1896[2]
2nd # 4 Mason Machine Works 2-4-6T 1882 683 Burned at Winthrop Junction (Orient Heights) 1896 and scrapped 1904[2]
3rd # 4 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1904 30125 Scrapped 1929[2]
1st # 5 Leo Hinkley Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1876 1240 Sold to Brown Company of Florida[2]
2nd # 5 Mason Machine Works 2-4-4T 1885 720 Rebuilt 1917 - Scrapped 1929[2]
1st # 6 Draco Mason Machine Works 0-4-4T 1876 559 Scrapped 1885[2]
2nd # 6 Mason Machine Works 2-4-4T 1886 727 Rebuilt in ALCO Manchester shops 1920 - scrapped 1929[2]
7 Mason Machine Works 2-4-6T 1882 684 Rebuilt in ALCO Manchester shops 1920 - scrapped 1929[2]
1st # 8 Mason Machine Works 2-4-4T 1883 692 Scrapped 1900[2]
2nd # 8 Manchester Locomotive Works 2-4-4T 1900 1741 Scrapped 1929[2]
9 Mason Machine Works 2-4-4T 1887 740 Scrapped 1929[2]
10 Mason Machine Works 2-4-4T 1887 741 Scrapped 1929[2]
11 Taunton Locomotive Manufacturing Company 2-4-4T 1890 981 Rebuilt 1917 - Scrapped 1929[2]
12 Taunton Locomotive Manufacturing Company 2-4-4T 1890 982 Rebuilt in ALCO Manchester shops 1920 - scrapped 1929[2]
13 Manchester Locomotive Works 2-4-4T 1900 1742 Scrapped 1929[2]
14 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1902 25872 Scrapped 1940[2]
15 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1903 27802 Scrapped 1929[2]
16 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1905 Scrapped 1929[2]
17 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1906 39054 Scrapped 1929[2]
18 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1907 42268 Ran through the East Boston bumper block into Boston Harbor and scrapped 1928[2]
19 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1907 42741 Rebuilt 1917 - Scrapped 1929[2]
20 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1907 42742 Scrapped 1929[2]
21 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1907 42743 Scrapped 1929[2]
22 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1912 50830 Scrapped 1929[2]
23 ALCO Manchester 2-4-4T 1912 50831 Scrapped 1929[2]
24 ALCO Schenectady 2-4-4T 1914 54590 Scrapped 1929[2]
25 ALCO Schenectady 2-4-4T 1914 54591 Scrapped 1929[2]
26 ALCO Schenectady 2-4-4T 1914 54592 Scrapped 1929[2]

Ferryboat Roster[edit]

Name Date Origin Disposal
Union 1875 purchased from New Bedford-Taunton Railroad Scrapped 1889[3]
Oriole 1876 purchased from Providence, Warren & Fall River Railroad Sold to Washington Railroad of Lunder, North Carolina 1878[3]
City of Lynn 1878 Built by Bath Iron Works Converted to a sand barge in 1918[3]
Swampscott 1882 Built by D. D. Kelly & Son of Boston Sold for Portland to Peaks Island ferry service in Casco Bay 1908[3]
Dartmouth 1889 Built in East Boston Retired 1939[3]
Ashburnham 1905 Built in Boston Sold 1940[3]
Brewster 1906 Built in Boston Sold 1940[3]
Newtown 1908 Built in Boston Towed to Portland, Maine in 1940[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walker Lithograph & Publishing Co. (1891). "Boston & Hull & Nahant & Revere & Swampscott & Winthrop 1891 Plate 05". WardMaps LLC. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai Stanley, Robert C. Narrow Gauge - The Story of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad Boston Street Railway Association 1980 pp.111-112
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Stanley, Robert C. Narrow Gauge - The Story of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad Boston Street Railway Association 1980 p.113
  • Hilton, George W. (1990) American Narrow Gauge Railroads. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-2369-9
  • Ronald Dale Karr (1994) The Rail Lines of Southern New England: A Handbook of Railroad History. Branch Line Press. ISBN 0-942147-02-2
  • Stanley, Robert C. (1980) Narrow Gauge - The Story of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Boston Street Railway Association.

External links[edit]