August 15, 2009
Hopedale History
No. 138
G&U Railroad

Hopedale in August  

Girl Scouts at Dr. Janko’s office   on YouTube

And more YouTube –
August 2 MS Bike Ride from Hopedale    and more…     The Blackstone Gorge (An improved version – at least it’s better than the one I did last year.)

The Little Red Shop Museum received an occupancy permit last week, and on Thursday, August 6, the first public event since the renovation project, a meeting of the Milford Area Chamber of Commerce was held there.
Click here for photos of it.

Don’t wait until the last minute to order Little Red Shop Museum Christmas cards, featuring a watercolor of the shop done by Ray Andreotti.
Order now.

Now and then I get a comment on these things I send out. Here’s one from Richard in Oregon.  
Hi Dan
I am so excited to hear that the G&U RR is soon to be running through Hopedale again. It was a very important part of my childhood. The YouTube of the band concert brought back many memories too. The kids on the swings in the background reminded me of what I would do while the band played music that was uncool for us kids in those days. lol.. I love that music now.  Go figure. Thanks for all the enjoyment your site brings me my friend.
Richard, the old Hopedale guy in Oregon now.

And I always hear from Peter in Melbourne. Here’s his comment on 137.
Hello Dan,
Another good history from the desk of Dan Malloy, the Railroad link was interesting, someone has got buckets of money to take this on. I will look at the Fantasy Big Band tomorrow, but you did a good job in thinking of 1912 and those news items - an interesting lot to follow up. That was an interesting article by Virginia Cyr on the schoolhouse which led me to the South Hopedale cemetery and on to Roberta Simmons. I think I mentioned those two photos in the July page - Perfection!!, the LRS looks like it is now well on the way to opening, you will need to purchase some good sized Stein's for the coming Octoberfest.


Revival of the Grafton & Upton Railroad has created some local interest in the business, so I thought this would be a good time for a Gordon Hopper story written in 1996.

Grafton-Upton Railroad Was Active
                                                     By Gordon E. Hopper

HOPEDALE – Additional information located recently about activities of the Grafton and Upton Railroad is presented here along with information supplied by the owner of a coal business once located at Grafton Center which was served by the railroad.

Railroad operations at the Hopedale depot which were shut down in Dec. 1977 were shifted to a Rockwell-Draper division foundry area. This move was necessitated because of the termination of heat to several town buildings and the railroad station. Some time prior to Aug. 1978, the Rockwell firm indicated that the railroad was for sale and at that time, the Hopedale selectmen announced that the plant would close down in about one year. At that same time, the railroad had eight employees and Fred Abbott, general manager of the railroad, stated that Rockwell could not shut the railroad down without filing a proper notice of intent with the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Rockwell International was negotiating the sale of the railroad in Oct. 1978 and in Nov. it announced that the railroad would be purchased by TORCO, a firm which specialized in leasing truck trailers designed for movement by rail. In Nov., stock shares in the Grafton and Upton were transferred to TORCO and it was announced that the number of railroad full-time workers could be cut in half. Ownership by TORCO was taken over on Jan 29, 1979.

During a period of research it was determined that documents showed that in 1909, the Washington Mills Abrasive Company at North Grafton used a long siding from the railroad located between (?) and East Streets. Use of this siding was discontinued near the end of World War II and a new siding, about 265 feet long, was extended directly into the mill complex.

Following its abandonment in 1919, children played with the old North Grafton turntable until Sept. 29, 1933 when 11-year old Frank Bradish of Grafton fell into the mechanism and was killed.  The turntable was made inoperative during Oct. 1933 and it was recalled by Ernest Cooper, G&U superintendent, that he was associated with the removal of the turntable when the line was rebuilt in the early 1950s.

While the Massachusetts Turnpike was being built, construction materials were delivered by the railroad to a site near the Turnpike where a long siding had been constructed. The old roadbed is still visible from Route 140.

During the 1950s, the North Grafton express building was purchased by Warren Axtell, who pulled it across North Street with his tractor. A telephone located near Westboro Street at North Grafton, until a few years ago, was used by train crews to contact the railroad dispatcher at Hopedale. The North Grafton yard was rebuilt during 1951 and 1952 to hold 110 standard 40-foot cars and the old passenger track which ran from the main line to the Boston and Albany railroad depot, was removed. A section of its original roadbed is still visible adjacent to the residence at 174 North Main Street as well as part of two trolley tracks embedded in the street at this point. During the reconstruction of the railroad, large trucks owned by E.I. Dauphinais, Inc., hauled gravel of the roadbed to the Allen track at North Grafton. The trucks climbed a rugged wooden framework to reach a platform from where gravel was dumped into the gondola cars.

Several years ago, Robert Gordon, 4 Warren Street, Grafton, supplied information about the operation of a coal yard he once owned at Grafton Center which involved the railroad. The original roadbed of the Gordon Coal Co. siding is still visible along with two coal shed concrete base sections. Gordon possesses a track spike taken from the abandoned siding a few years ago. Rails used on sidings at the coal yard weighed 65 pounds for three-foot lengths and dated ties still in place were marked 1936, 1940 and 1941. Hard coal was handled the most and partitions in a building were required to separate the different sizes of hard coal. Coke in bags was kept in a storage area in one end of an old shed.

Coal cars were positioned in front of the desired compartment of the coal shed and the nose end of a conveyor was placed up into the bottom of the coal car. It carried coal out from under the car at ground level, then up the conveyor belt and into the coal shed. Sometimes, a set of metal chutes would carry the coal from the conveyor to another partition inside the shed. The same conveyor was used of loading coal into trucks at the back of the building.

Several years ago, the Grafton Center yard still continued an active passing siding along with a spur section. Some time prior to 1909 there had been at least one more siding as parts of an abandoned one are still visible in the grass and weeds of the yard complex as rotted ties and sections a pair of light weight, rusty 65-pound rails.

During a Nov. 1982 field trip to Grafton, a gasoline powered track car was seen carrying Digital Company employee railfans from Grafton Center to Milford and return. Their vehicle was identified as being a Whitney jitney. A second car carrying several Connecticut residents was identified as a Fairmont M-14 unit.

George Belsitos and Walter Beauchamp retired in 1981. Beauchamp then worked for a while with the track crew and Belsitos was employed by TORCO to work on the trailers in the engine house at Hopedale. Michael Healey, employed part-time at first by TORCO, became brakeman on the train during Oct. 1982.

In May 1969, a new whistle was installed on one of the G&U locomotives. It was operated by air and basically, it sounded like a steam whistle. The installation of automatic signal lights at several highway crossings along the route of the railroad started in May of 1978 and in 1985, a work crew pulled a tank care out of the Quinsigamond River near the Washington Mills plant at North Grafton. It had broken loose from a nearby rail interchange.
Milford Daily News, February 12, 1996.

Hopper's History of the Grafton & Upton Railroad.  


Recent death:

John Howell Atkinson, 74, June 23, 2009, Barre, Vermont

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