The Grafton and Upton Railroad
The Hopedale Yard Complex
by Gordon Hopper
lengthened from West Upton to Milford. It included the main line, a siding of about the same length, five
short sidings, a separate siding for bringing coal cars to the Hopedale Stable Company, a line to
Draper’s coal shed, and another line directly into the single set of rails changed to two sets at a point
slightly north of Soward Street where the trolley tracks crossed the G&U line. These two sets of tracks
crossed Soward Street and Bancroft Parkway (a private crossing at that time) and entered the Draper
Some time between 1890 and 1898, the tracks inside the North Works were abandoned and a new
main line was constructed around the western edge of the large industrial complex. This included the
removal of a set of tracks between Soward Street and Hope Street. Signs of an old siding roadbed
remain visible a little north of the Freedom Street crossing on the eastern side of the tracks. Seventy-
five years ago it carried a set of tracks to three icehouses on Hopedale Pond owned by the Hopedale
Stable Company and later by the Hopedale Coal and Ice Company. It is pretty well grown in with trees
and brush, but it can be seen with difficulty. The abandoned roadbed of another siding, this one running
westerly from the main line near the North Yard, carried coal cars to an open trestle owned by the
Hopedale Stable Company and led to a very large enclosed wooden coal shed and trestle owned by
the Hopedale Coal and Ice Company.
Offices and headquarters were located in the 25 by 45 foot Hopedale station from 1913 when the
Milford office was closed, until 1977. A freight house was added to the office building during 1913.
Separate telephones in the office were used for contacting the Upton, West Upton, Grafton and North
Grafton depots. The original building, although not now in use, remains in place. After the railroad
stopped handling express in the early 1950s, activities inside the station were reduced and office work
and the dispatching of trains was conducted from the building. The Hopedale yards are about two
miles from the Milford terminus in an area between Route 16 and the former Draper Company
The North Yard was used mainly for receiving the materials used by the Draper Company and its
foundry such as carloads of iron, steel, lumber, pipes, sand, pig iron, coke, scrap metal, silicon clay
and sea coal in bags. The South Yard was used primarily for shipping purposes although tank cars of
liquid propane gas were received and stored here. It is in this yard that textile looms produced by the
company, along with foundry castings were loaded into freight cars and shipped via the railroad. In
December of 1912, Robert Allen Cook prepared plans for modifying the Hopedale station and a report
in the May 29, 1914 issue of the Milford Daily News referred to the G&U Railroad.
“An old barn near the Grafton and Upton Railroad station belonging to Mrs. John Moore was partially
destroyed by fire Monday night at 10 o’clock and the fire is believed to have been set.
“The brilliant illumination which immediately followed the alarm attracted a large crowd from this town
and Milford but the department made short work of the blaze. The land on which the barn stood was
recently sold to the railroad company to be used, according to reports, as the site of the new
The concrete block engine house was built by the J.W. Bishop Co. of Worcester after the original
engine house at Milford had been destroyed by fire during 1914. The South Yard was rebuilt and
enlarged during the same year. Water was supplied to steam engines from a standpipe sprinkler
located near the track scale. It was installed in 1971 a prior to that time, a hydrant and hose was used
to wet down coke cars. Today, the hydrant is connected to a sprinkler. A 30-foot long Fairbanks track
scale used from the early days until around 1948 was located in the yard between the office building
and Draper’s fence. The track went over part of the foundation which also supported the scale shed.
The capacity of a new and larger Fairbanks track scale installed in 1948 was more than 150 tons. It
automatically printed out the measured weight. A weigher employed by the Draper Company operated
the scale and recorded the results whenever the scale services were required. It has not been used
since 1967. Three sets of tracks with bumping posts located near the engine house were installed in
1914. Tracks in the Hopedale yard were moved and the complete yard was rebuilt during the early
1950s. Three small buildings near the engine house were used mostly for storing maintenance
materials required to keep the line in operating condition. One of the buildings was the original scale
house, the other two had been the Hopedale station coal and tool shed buildings. Tools and salt are
stored in two of the small buildings and occasionally the section car is kept in one of the buildings.
During the early 1950s when the road was rebuilt, the configuration of the South Yard was changed and
it was enlarged. Each of the yard sidings were given names or numbers at this time.
Prior to 1898, the MAIN set of tracks went completely through the Draper main plant building. The B&A
siding was a storage area for cars scheduled to go to the B&A line at North Grafton. Sidings identified
as LONG LOOP and SHORT LOOP formed separate loops with the main line. BACK TRACK is the rear
track in the group of sidings located on the north side of the South Yard. CEMETERY track was so-
called because it points toward the Hopedale Village Cemetery. The OIL track is used for storing oil
tank cars. The HORN track has contours similar to a horn. The PHIPPS siding running into the Draper
Company building was named after a shipping foreman once employed by the company. During World
War II, the company built guns for the War Department. The GUN siding was named because it was
used in this program. The outer siding (nearest Hopedale Street) is called the HOUSE siding.
Incoming freight is unloaded from this public siding. WATER siding was so-called because it was the
closest track to a pond at one time located behind the engine house. Although not in existence today,
there was a PATRICK siding in the Hopedale yard. It was located on the extreme outside edge of the
yard adjacent to the HOUSE track. It was named after Henry L. Patrick, a prominent Hopedale politician
and businessman who owned a warehouse in this area around the early 1930s. (Henry Patrick had a
grocery store located just to the east of the Patrick siding and rail deliveries of items that were sold at the
store would come in at the siding. I’ve never seen anything other than the comment above about him
being a politician. The store was established in 1869. Patrick had a store at the corner of Hopedale and
Mendon streets as well as one between the library and the Harrison Block. That one may have been his
second store, but I'm sure it was there well before the 1930s. DM)
Four remaining sets of tracks in the southwestern corner of the South Yard were scheduled to be
identified as sidings #1, 2, 3 and 4. However, this logic was changed and they are now called BACK
TRACK, OUTSIDE MIDDLE, INSIDE MIDDLE AND #4. Two tracks running into Draper’s buildings from
the South Yard go to separate shipping areas. Telltales once strung across South Yard tracks near the
Hope Street Bridge during the steam and electric eras were discontinued when the use of hand brakes
came to an end. During the 1930s and 1940s, surplus and scrap metal owned by the railroad was
purchased by Morris Sneiderman, owner of salvage yards on Route 140 and Freedom Street in
Hopedale. The 0213 car was dismantled by Sneiderman on the HOUSE track. Drapers stopped using
the lumberyard inside the South Yard during the early 1960s.
An unused siding slightly north of the Freedom Street crossing on the west side of the main line know
as the “pig iron” siding, is approximately 675 feet long and ends in a dirt bumper. Its 85 pound tracks
and switch are still in place and it was used as recently as 1965. A large electromagnet lifting crane
was installed in the North Yard in July 1919 for unloading pig iron and other metal. There was a 2 or 2.5
percent grade on the tracks inside the North Yard that went inside buildings. The POND track in the
North Yard was used as a coke unloading area. A telephone at the Freedom Street crossing was used
when there were two separate train crews. It was installed in the late 1940s or early 1950s and stayed
in use for at least ten years. It was used when yard clearance was necessary.
In the summer of 1974, the trucks on the 1001 locomotive were replaced on a rip track set up in the
Hopedale yard for this particular job.
Several large purification units came into the Hopedale yard in the summer of 1974. The special
assemblies were installed at the West Foundry. Grafton & Upton Railroad, Gordon Hopper, pp. 72 – 75.
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