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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