Billerica and Bedford Railroad

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Billerica and Bedford Railroad
Locale Massachusetts
Dates of operation 1877–1878
Successor abandoned
Track gauge 2 ft (610 mm)
Boston and Lowell Railroad
North Billerica Junction
Salem Road
Boston Road
Nuttings Pond(Nutting Lake)
South Billerica
Bedford Springs
Oak Hill
Spring Street(Springs Road)
Main Street(Great Road)
Bedford Junction
Middlesex Central Railroad

The Billerica and Bedford Railroad was an early narrow gauge railroad in Massachusetts, built to demonstrate the advantages of a 2 ft (610 mm) gauge railroad.

George E. Mansfield, of Hazelhurst, Massachusetts, became an early promoter of the two foot gauge after seeing the Ffestiniog Railway in operation in Wales. He persuaded the citizens of Billerica of the economies of a two-foot line, and became general manager of the Billerica and Bedford when it was chartered in 1876. Construction began in May 1877, and the line was completed between North Billerica and Bedford in August 1877, a distance of 8.63 miles (13.89 km).

The line was built very cheaply in accordance with narrow gauge doctrine, but rapidly found itself financially embarrassed. Turntables were built at each end of the railroad, and a wye and engine-house were built at Bedford, but no stations were ever constructed along the line. The company went bankrupt and was liquidated in June 1878.

Mansfield, undeterred, went on to promote the two foot gauge in Maine, where the largest New World network of these lines was ultimately built. The Boston and Lowell Railroad used most of the B&B roadbed to extend its Lexington Branch in May 1885. The Boston and Maine Railroad took over the line in 1887.

Station stops on the line along were Bedford, Springs Road, Bedford Springs, South Billerica, Turnpike (Nuttings Lake), Billerica, Bennett Hall and North Billerica (Only the Bedford & North Billerica stations still stand). Passenger service stopped on the last day of 1931 and the line was used as a freight line until it was abandoned from Bedford Depot to Billerica Depot in 1962. The line was further abandoned from Billerica Depot to Bennett Hall about 1980.

The two locomotives were named after William Shakespeare's sprites, Ariel and Puck.

Rolling stock[edit]

Name Builder Type Date Works number Notes
Ariel[1] Hinkley Locomotive Works[1] 0-4-4 Forney locomotive[1] 1877 1251[2] Became Sandy River Railroad #1[3]
Puck[1] Hinkley Locomotive Works[1] 0-4-4 Forney locomotive[1] 1877 1261[2] Became Sandy River Railroad #2[3]
Fawn[4] Ranlet Manufacturing Company[4] combine car[4] 1877 Became Sandy River Railroad #4[5]
Sylvan[6] Ranlet Manufacturing Company[6] coach[6] 1877 Became Sandy River Railroad #3[5]
A[4] Ranlet Manufacturing Company[4] boxcar[4] 1877 Became Sandy River Railroad #2[5]
B & C[7] Ranlet Manufacturing Company[6] excursion cars[6] 1877 Rebuilt as Sandy River Railroad baggage cars #1 & #3[5]
D thru I[7] Ranlet Manufacturing Company[8] flatcars[8] 1877 Sold to Sandy River Railroad several later rebuilt as boxcars[9]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Moody 1959 p.50
  2. ^ a b Jones 1980 p.350
  3. ^ a b Crittenden 1976 pp.19
  4. ^ a b c d e f Moody 1959 p.52
  5. ^ a b c d Jones 1980 p.355
  6. ^ a b c d e Moody 1959 p.51
  7. ^ a b Crittenden 1976 pp.11
  8. ^ a b Moody 1959 p.53
  9. ^ Crittenden 1976 pp.24


  • Adams, Robert. "Born and Buried in Six Months". TRAINS Magazine. Kalmbach (September 1959): 34. 
  • Crittenden, H. Temple (1976). The Maine Scenic Route. McClain Printing. 
  • Jones, Robert C. (1980). Two Feet Between the Rails (Volume II - The Mature Years). Sundance Books. 
  • Karr, Ronald D. (1994). Lost Railroads New England. Branch Line Press. ISBN 0-942147-04-9. 
  • Karr, Ronald D. (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England - A Handbook of Railroad History. Branch Line Press. ISBN 0-942147-02-2. 
  • Moody, Linwood W. (1959). The Maine Two-Footers. Howell-North. 

External sites[edit]