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Getaway in Massachusetts with a little railfanning thrown in

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To begin, I'd like to apologize for not keeping up with this blog. In my defense, my business is simply crazy right now. While many of my friends are suffering under the weight of this pandemic, I am not. In fact, for us it is quite the opposite. I fix people's houses. I'm a handyman/carpenter/painter and well, you get the picture. I usually don't have much to do from early December till early February. People simply don't want you in their house at that time and I understand completely. I plan for this time to rest up, and play with my trains.
HA! Fooled me! Customers are calling me, asking if I can work the Saturday after Christmas! Sorry, I am booked! So needless to say, I have been neglecting the B-Line and everything that goes with it, including this blog. But yesterday were were hit with a pretty heavy snowstorm and that gave me today to tell about the rare weekend away that I managed with my good friend, and fellow small-time contractor, with whom I have had a long standing friendship. He and his wife, and me and mine, like to slip away for the occasional weekend road trip. We go antiquing, eat rich, unhealthy food, share a drink or two and usually they indulge me with a little railfanning. It turned out to be a "freaky-warm" late fall weekend, with temps reaching into the 70's in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts and we strolled around North Adams in search of treasures and entertaining ourselves by just being together. We're in our 60's and 70's and so the truth of the matter is that the masks really kind of improved our appearance.
Behind the shopping district in North Adams lies a municipal parking lot which is bordered by a river, which has been shunted into a canal to protect the nearby village. (I would imagine that melting snow in Springtime might create quite a lake in the flatlands that make up the center of town.) Beyond that, a highway swoops in on an elevated ramp and merges with Route 2 which then morphs into the famous Mohawk Trail, with some of the most dramatic driving anywhere in America. It is a well known destination for leaf peepers and "Sunday Drivers" of all ages. There is also a rail line which crosses the canal and runs under the highway. I thought the juxtaposition of the bridges might make a good scene to model. It was hard to get all encompassing photos of the area but I did what I could.

Here is that same bridge, from down river:

If you want to view this scene from other perspectives, Google Earth has some good shots.

Pam and I went out by ourselves pretty early the next morning, before our friends were even awake, and followed those tracks to see just where they went. Of course, we couldn't stay with them for too long, but we saw that they skirted the Vermont State Line and headed toward New York State. I don't think they are Amtrak rails, but rather CSX or possibly the Vermont Central, which (I am told) snakes its way through the Berkshires and down to Palmer, a suburb of Springfield. I believe their main cargo is something called slurry, which is quarried in Vermont and used in making marble. After only a few miles of track following, we happened upon a small area of mystery structures. We trespassed around for quite a while trying to figure out what the area used to be. I kind of think it may have been a coaling yard back in the day. I am pretty sure there was some rail/truck interchanging going on too, although all the sidings have been ripped up. There remains an abandoned warehouse or yard office and two rather imposing structures, which may have been coaling towers. They may also have been some sort of grain silos too, I just don't know, and there was no one around to ask. If you know what they are, please say so. We are really curious. I have to apologize again for the quality of the photos, but I swear they are as good as anyone could get. The buildings are almost completely shrouded in overgrowth and being wood/shingled, there are no outstanding colors or textures to help clarify the images. That said, here they are:

Here is that freight office:

I am not sure these will help anyone, buy neither am I sure they won't.

Here's to hoping that things can return to normal, whatever that is, and soon! Till it does, please stay safe! And Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and mostly, Peace for the New Year!
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  1. The Ol' Curmudgeon's Avatar
    Thanks for the update and photos!
  2. schedule22's Avatar
    A fun read as I am Boston based!
  3. Albey25's Avatar
    Thanks for reading! I enjoy writing. I was hoping someone would know what those buildings were. They fascinated both me and my wife. They must have been pretty important in their time but now they're just giant corpses of a bygone era.
  4. NellsChoo's Avatar
    Was the museum near "Mini Hoosac" open? You were also very close to the West Portal... Berkshire Scenic ( etc... that slurry, if in Omya tanks, is (or at least was, haven't seen any in a long time) for the paper mills of Maine.
  5. Albey25's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by NellsChoo
    Was the museum near "Mini Hoosac" open? You were also very close to the West Portal... Berkshire Scenic ( etc... that slurry, if in Omya tanks, is (or at least was, haven't seen any in a long time) for the paper mills of Maine.

    I was unaware of any rail related museum when I was out there, so thanks for the heads-up. I'll be sure to check it out when we go back. I was vaguely aware that the Hoosic Tunnel is around there, but I have always thought it to be impossible to access. Maybe it's even illegal but either way, not for a 73 year old man with a heart condition. Is the tunnel closed now? I hear different things at different times. As for those buildings, do they look familiar to you? I keep hoping someone will identify their intended use.

    Pam and I took a tour around a small town in central Vermont quite a number of years ago. It's one of the best sources of the raw material used in creating marble. EVERYthing in town is marble, from the bridge leading into town to the police station and town hall and even the sidewalks! I thought they used the word "slurry" to define the stuff they quarried there, but maybe I was wrong. Heaven knows it wasn't the first time, nor will it be the last I am sure.

    Thank you for reading!