Boston and Maine Corporation

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Boston and Maine Corporation
Boston and maine railroad minuteman herald.png
1916 B&M.jpg
B&M 1916 system map
Reporting markBM
New Hampshire
New York
Dates of operation1836–1983
SuccessorPan Am Railways
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length2,077 mi (3,343 km)
HeadquartersBoston, Massachusetts

The Boston and Maine Corporation (reporting mark BM), known as the Boston and Maine Railroad (B&M), was a U.S. Class I railroad in northern New England. It became part of what is now the Pan Am Railways network in 1983.

At the end of 1970, B&M operated 1,515 route-miles (2,438 km) on 2,481 miles (3,993 km) of track, not including Springfield Terminal. That year it reported 2,744 million ton-miles of revenue freight and 92 million passenger-miles.[1]


The Andover and Wilmington Railroad was incorporated March 15, 1833, to build a branch from the Boston and Lowell Railroad at Wilmington, Massachusetts, north to Andover, Massachusetts. The line opened to Andover on August 8, 1836. The name was changed to the Andover and Haverhill Railroad on April 18, 1837, reflecting plans to build further to Haverhill, Massachusetts (opened later that year), and yet further to Portland, Maine, with the renaming to the Boston and Portland Railroad on April 3, 1839, opening to the New Hampshire state line in 1840.

The Boston and Maine Railroad was chartered in New Hampshire on June 27, 1835, 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. 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.

1898 map
Locomotive emerging from Salem station on the Eastern line, ca. 1910
Boston & Maine depot, Boston, Massachusetts (19th c.)

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 Railroad Extension 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, Massachusetts, in order to better serve Lawrence, Massachusetts.

A new alignment to Portland opened in 1873, splitting from the old route at South Berwick, Maine. The old route was later abandoned. This completed the B&M "main line" which would become known as the Western Route to distinguish it from the Eastern Route (described below) which also connected Boston and Portland.


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, 1883, and on May 9, 1890, the B&M bought the Eastern. This provided a second route to Maine, ending competition along the immediate route between Boston and Portland. Along with the Eastern, the B&M also acquired many branch lines, including the Conway Branch, the Saugus Branch, the South Reading Branch, and branches to Marblehead and Rockport, Massachusetts.[2]

Worcester, Nashua and Portland[edit]

B&M station in Wells, Maine, c. 1910.
B&M train passing through Saco, Maine, c. 1879.

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, via Nashua. 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, 1886. 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[edit]

On April 1, 1887 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 into Quebec. 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, 1895, gaining the Concord Railroad's direct line between Nashua and Concord. 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).


Boston and Maine railroad yard, Keene, New Hampshire, about 1916

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.

Connecticut River[edit]

On January 1, 1893, the B&M leased the Connecticut River Railroad, with the main line from Springfield, Massachusetts north along the Connecticut River to White River Junction, Vermont, where the Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers Railroad (acquired in 1887) continued north. Along with this railroad came the Ashuelot Railroad which had been acquired in 1877.

Concord and Montreal[edit]

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, 1895, giving the B&M the majority of lines in New Hampshire.


B&M Station at Littleton, Massachusetts, about 1910. This station still exists

The B&M leased the Fitchburg Railroad on July 1, 1900. This was primarily the 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.

20th century[edit]

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. In 1925 B&M reported 2956 million net ton-miles of revenue freight and 740 million passenger-miles; at the end of the year it operated 2291 route- miles including "42.85 miles of electric street railway". (Those totals do not include B&C, M&WR, StJ&LC or YH&B.)

The B&M's most traveled and well known passenger trains included the Alouette, Ambassador, Cheshire, Day White Mountains, East Wind, Green Mountain Flyer, Gull, Kennebec, Minute Man, Montrealer/Washingtonian, Mountaineer, Pine Tree, Red Wing, and State of Maine but the popularization of the automobile doomed B&M as a passenger carrier. It cut its Troy, New York, to Boston passenger service back to Williamstown, Massachusetts, 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.

Boston & Maine advertisement, c. 1905.

The B&M filed for bankruptcy in December 1970. During bankruptcy the B&M reorganized. It rebuilt its existing fleet of locomotives, it leased new locomotives and rolling stock, and it secured funds for upgrading its track and signal systems.

For much of the 1970s, the Boston and Maine limped along. In 1973 the MBTA bought the rolling stock and tracks near Boston from the ailing B&M used in its commuter operations. In 1973 and 1974 the B&M was on the brink of liquidation. The B&M was offered to merge its properties into the new Conrail but opted out.

B&M 339 at work in Wells, Maine.

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, New York, site, the largest rail yard and shop facilities on the B&M system.

21st century[edit]

Pan Am Railways Locomotive #327 with Boston & Maine markings on cab in 2009

Guilford Rail System changed its name to Pan Am Railways in 2006. Technically, Boston & Maine Corporation still exists today but only as a non-operating ward of PAR. Boston & Maine owns the property (and also employs its own railroad police), while Springfield Terminal Railway, a B&M subsidiary, operates the trains and performs maintenance. This complicated operation is mainly due to more favorable labor agreements under Springfield Terminal's rules.

Pan Am entered a joint venture with Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) in April 2009 to form Pan Am Southern (PAS). PAR transferred to the PAS assets that included its 155-mile (249 km) main line track between Mechanicville, New York, and Ayer, Massachusetts, including the Hoosac Tunnel and Fitchburg line as far as Littleton, Massachusetts, and 281 miles (452 km) of secondary and branch lines, plus trackage rights, in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. NS transferred cash and other property valued at $140 million to the joint venture, $87.5 million of which was expected to be invested within a three-year period in capital improvements on the Patriot Corridor, such as terminal expansions, track and signal upgrades. Springfield Terminal provides all railroad services for the joint venture.

Service at B&M's former yard in Mechanicville, New York was restored as an intermodal and automotive terminal in January 2012 under PAS.[3]

Passenger trains[edit]

New York City trains served Grand Central Terminal, except where noted. Boston trains served North Station. Trains originating in New York City or Washington D.C. bypassed Boston.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heald, Bruce (2007). A History of the Boston & Maine Railroad: Exploring New Hampshire's Rugged Heart by Rail. Arcadia Publishing.
  2. ^ Karr (1995), p. 255-263.
  3. ^ Post, Paul (March 24, 2012). "Boom II: Overshadowed by GlobalFoundries, new rail hub could spur unprecedented growth along Route 67 corridor in Stillwater". The Saratogian. Retrieved October 1, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Maiken, Peter (1989). Night Trains: The Pullman System in the Golden Years of American Rail Travel. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 0-8018-4503-3.


External links[edit]

Media related to Boston and Maine Railroad at Wikimedia Commons