Millis Branch

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Millis Branch
Taffy Cafe, Dover MA.jpg
The former station building at Dover, as seen in 2014
Overview
TypeCommuter rail
SystemMassachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
StatusAbandoned
LocaleSoutheastern Massachusetts
TerminiBoston South Station
Millis
Stations14[1]
Operation
Opened1861 (Charles River Branch Railroad)
ClosedApril 21 1967[2]
OwnerNew York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, later Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Operator(s)New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad later MBTA
CharacterSurface-level
Technical
Line length22.1 miles[1]
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
South Station
BSicon SUBWAY.svg MBTA.svg
Back Bay
MBTA.svg
Roslindale Village
MBTA.svg
Bellevue
MBTA.svg
Highland
MBTA.svg
West Roxbury
MBTA.svg
Former route to Dedham
Bird's Hill
MBTA.svg
Needham Junction
MBTA.svg
Charles River
Dover
Farm Street
Medfield
Clicquot
Millis
Medway
West Medway
Former route to Woonsocket
and Pascoag, RI

The Millis Branch was a branch of what is now the MBTA Commuter Rail system. Branching off the still-operating Needham Line at Needham Junction, it ran through the towns of Dover, Medfield, Millis, and Medway. Due to lack of subsidies and poor ridership, the line was cut back to Millis station in April 1966, and all service ended on April 21, 1967.

History[edit]

The Charles River Branch Railroad was extended from Needham Center to Woonsocket, Rhode Island in stages between 1861 and 1863 under the New York & Boston Railroad, with service operating to Boston via the Highland Branch.[3] Initial plans to extend the line to New York City as an air-line railroad never came to pass, but a small portion of this route was built as the Woonsocket and Pascoag Railroad, opening from Woonsocket to Pascoag, Rhode Island in 1891;[4] the latter line became functionally an extension of the Charles River Branch, with through trains from Pascoag to and from Boston, although not on schedules suitable for commuting.[3][4] Ownership of the line passed through the Boston, Hartford and Erie Railroad, New York and New England Railroad, and, finally, to the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (commonly referred to as just the "New Haven Railroad"), which consolidated essentially the entire southern and southeastern Massachusetts rail network under its umbrella. After the Needham Cutoff opened on November 4, 1906, service from Woonsocket and intermediate stops ran over the cutoff rather than via the Highland Branch.[3]

With the Midland Line (now the Franklin Line) as the primary Woonsocket route for the New Haven Railroad, the Charles River Branch served as a minor branch line. After 1926, all service to Woonsocket was provided by shuttle trains from Woonsocket to Bellingham Junction; service north of Bellingham Junction was provided by trains from Boston to Franklin via Needham and Bellingham Junction, as well as trains travelling via the Charles River Branch outbound and the Midland Line inbound or vice versa.[3] Service beyond Bellingham Junction was discontinued entirely in 1930, and the portion of the line between Woonsocket and the state line was completely abandoned in 1934.[3][4] All service beyond Needham Junction was discontinued on 13 July 1938.[3] Service to Bellingham Junction was briefly restored in March 1940 with a single daily round trip between Boston and Franklin via the Charles River Branch, but this was cut back to Caryville station in North Bellingham in May 1940; at the same time, however, additional service was added between Boston and West Medway.[3] In September 1941, all remaining Caryville service was cut back to West Medway, which would remain the terminus of the branch for the next twenty-five-and-a-half years.[3][5] After 1955, service on the branch was reduced to one single-car round trip to West Medway, which was combined with a longer Needham Heights train at Needham Junction.[2][3]

By the time the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) was founded in August 1964 to subsidize suburban commuter rail service, the West Medway Branch was moribund. Subsidies to the New Haven Railroad for the Needham, West Medway, Dedham, and Franklin lines began on April 24, 1966; out-of-district Medway declined to provide additional funding, and the line was cut back to Millis as the Millis Branch.[2] The sole remaining round trips to Millis and Dedham were cut on April 21, 1967, due to extremely poor ridership.[2][3]

The former stations at Dover (now a Dunkin Donuts) and Millis (now town offices) are still extant; the other six stations west of Needham Junction have been demolished.

Station and junction listing[edit]

Milepost[1][6] City Station/junction Opening date[3] Closing date[3] Notes[3]
0.00 Boston South Station 1 January 1899 Still operating
Junction with Midland Branch (now MBTA Fairmount Line)
1.2 Back Bay 1 January 1899 Still operating
Junction with Framingham/Worcester Line
5.0 Junction with Providence/Stoughton Line, Franklin Line, and Dedham Branch
6.4 Roslindale Village 1870 Still operating
7.2 Bellevue 1870 Still operating
7.6 Highland 1870 Still operating
8.0 West Roxbury 1870 Still operating
10.9 Needham Bird's Hill 1917 Still operating (now Hersey)
12.0 Needham Junction (station) 4 November 1906 Still operating
12.1 Needham Junction Junction with Needham Line
13.8 Charles River 18 November 1861
March 1940
18 July 1938
21 April 1967
Former branch to Ridge Hill
15.2 Dover Dover 18 November 1861
March 1940
18 July 1938
21 April 1967
Station building still survives as a café
18.2 Medfield Farm Street 18 November 1861
March 1940
18 July 1938
21 April 1967
19.3 Medfield 18 November 1861
March 1940
18 July 1938
21 April 1967
Junction with NYNH&H Mansfield and Framingham Railroad
21.5 Millis Clicquot 18 November 1861
March 1940
18 July 1938
21 April 1967
Mainly a freight station by the 1960s[7]
22.1 Millis 18 November 1861
March 1940
18 July 1938
21 April 1967
Station building still survives and is rented out for commercial purposes
24.6 Medway Medway 18 November 1861
March 1940
18 July 1938
24 April 1966
Former junction with Medway Branch (abandoned 1864)
26.1 West Medway September 1862
March 1940
18 July 1938
24 April 1966
27.3 Bellingham Caryville 16 November 1863
March 1940
18 July 1938
September 1941
28.2 North Bellingham 16 November 1863
March 1940
18 July 1938
May 1940
30.5 Bellingham Junction 16 November 1863
March 1940
18 July 1938
May 1940
Junction with NYNH&H Milford Branch
34.7 Blackstone East Blackstone 16 November 1863 1926 (through trains)
1930 (Bellingham-Woonsocket shuttles)
35.5 Woonsocket Junction 16 November 1863 1926 (through trains)
1930 (Bellingham-Woonsocket shuttles)
Junction with NYNH&H Midland Line
36 Woonsocket, RI North Main Street Crossing 16 November 1863 Pre-1907
37.1 Woonsocket 16 November 1863 1926 (through trains)
1930 (Bellingham-Woonsocket shuttles)
Junction with Providence and Worcester Railroad; planned to be a stop on the future Boston Surface Railroad from Worcester to Providence
Woonsocket and Pascoag Railroad continues

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND RAILROADS (2) – SL 198" (PDF). Jim Fergusson's Railway and Tramway Station Lists. 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Belcher, Jonathan (27 June 2015). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Humphrey, Thomas J. & Clark, Norton D. (1985). Boston's Commuter Rail: The First 150 Years. Boston Street Railway Association. pp. 43–46. ISBN 9780685412947.
  4. ^ a b c "WOONSOCKET". Rhode Island Railroads. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  5. ^ Humphrey, Thomas J. & Clark, Norton D. (1986). Boston's Commuter Rail: Second Section. Boston Street Railway Association. p. 32. ISBN 978-0685412947.
  6. ^ "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14th ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014.
  7. ^ "Another Millis/Cliquot question New Haven days". The NHRHTA New Haven Railroad Forum. 2008. Retrieved 12 July 2015.