36 Miles Of Trouble West River Railroad By Victor Morse Soft Cover

36 Miles Of Trouble West River Railroad By Victor Morse Soft Cover

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36 Miles Of Trouble West River Railroad By Victor Morse Soft Cover
 
36 Miles Of Trouble West River Railroad By Victor Morse Soft Cover 1964 Fourth printing  (other printing available) 40 Pages
This account was originally written for, and run serially in, the Brattleboro Daily Reformer to encourage sale of the newspaper, which it did. Later it was reprinted as a pamphlet, neither copyrighted nor reviewed, and was sold on retail stands in the neighborhood. A continuing demand for copies has prompted this new edition which requires the same sort of courage as did the building of the line.
Vestiges of the railroad grow steadily rarer. They have persisted best north of Jamaica village where the railroad followed the river around the east side of Ball Mountain while the highway climbed over the west shoulder. The old roadbed has been used by motor traffic ever since the rails came up, and it gives access to some good trout fishing and some dandy places for unadorned swimming. Camps were built along the way, too. In this seven-mile stretch through forest land the railroad crossed the river once, at Pratt Bridge. In World War II scrap iron became dear enough to make this span worth money and it was advertised for sale by the State of Vermont, the owner. But pressure from sportsmen was too great-Pratt Bridge did not go to war.
The flood control dam now a-building against Ball Mountain will make all this different.
In places where the railroad intersected the highway well-worn wheel tracks, vanishing into the forest, show where autos continue to use the route of the Bull of the Woods, as the train was un-affectionately known to railroad men. Between Newfane and Townshend, State Route No. 30 runs hard by abutments of the Salmon Hole Bridge, an enduring monument to legislative generosity.
A substantial part of the roadbed can be driven over, the ties so well-rotted that the way is now smooth. Heavy trucks used it for a mile or two north from the mouth of West River to carry concrete to a huge bridge on four-lane Interstate Highway No. 91. In Newfane is a stretch with two lines of cattle fence-one built by the railroad and the other, closer to the track, strung up by a land-hungry fanner-when the railroad ceased to maintain one.
I earned college money on the West River line one summer-the summer they rebuilt it with state money. I had had a couple of summers' experience "out on the main line" and they quickly chose me timekeeper from a motley crew of transients that answered the call for labor. There were more men than tools and in a day or two the chief engineer fired half of them. They converged on me demanding their pay and, in the absence of instructions, I tore up some paper bags and wrote them out orders on the railroad's treasurer. These they took to Brattleboro and, finding no treasurer, presented them at the Brattleboro Trust Company, which began honoring them. Somebody soon put a stop to this.
In general, people everywhere react alike, and by changing the names you could make this the story of any number of backwater railroads, including some of the Old Colony segments which Massachusetts politicians are now wringing the last capital out of-political capital, that is. The hard capital was gone long ago. At present, I make crossties for the Bangor & Aroostook, the only New England railroad earning any money to buy them with.

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