The title suggests that the talk would be about the autumn colours of the trees in New England. Not so! Bob Gellatly is a railway enthusiast and it was about a railway journey he took, with his wife to various parts of New England in the autumn of 2013 and the emphasis was on the railways in New England and how they functioned. New England has boarders with Canada and is in actual fact about the same size as England UK.
Some of the places they visited were Boston, Bellows Falls, Chester Vermont and New Hampshire, Ely, Whitefield New Hampshire and Mount Washington.
The first part of their holiday was in Boston and they arrived a day early so they could see the sites and one of the things they did was to follow the Freedom Trail, which is represented by a red line running from Boston Common to Bunker Hill. The battle of Bunker Hill took place in 1775 and although they lost the battle the English army was so depleted that it became ineffective and independence was declared in 1776. Today there is a monument on the top of Bunker Hill to mark the turning point in the war for independence.
Boston is on the Charles River and the oldest commissioned ship in the American Navy, the USS Constitution, known as ‘Iron Sides@ is moored there. Boston also boasts the oldest underground railway system in the US although only a small section of it is underground in the city centre.
They boarded an Amtrak train to Bellows Falls, which is a village incorporated in the town of Rockingham in Windham County, Vermont, which is where they boarded a Green Mountain train to their next destination, Chester. Bob explained that Amtrak is the national railway system in the US covering the whole of the country but individual states have their own railway systems and they also maintain the tracks. Consequently Amtrak trains are infrequent and can be up to a day late because individual states favour their own railway companies. He also said that unlike our system, passengers are not allowed onto the platforms until the train is in the station and very often passengers are confined to waiting areas very similar to gates at airports. A further comment he made was that American locos are much larger than their British counterpart, being 10’-8” x 15’-1” as compared to 9’-11” in the UK.
They passed through Whitefield which still has ball signals which pre date the semaphore signalling system.
One of the highlights of the trip was to visit Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Appalachian range. On Mount Washington is a 3.1/2 mile long cog railway which was the first of its type in the world, originally opened in 1869. The locos running are the originals but the coaches are reconstructions.
They also travelled on the Hobo Junction Railroad from the Jack O’ Lantern Golf Resort to Hobo Junction station and visited the Albany covered bridge which is 100’ long.
All the rail-road systems they travelled on did not link up and so they escorted to their various destinations by coach and they did not sleep on the trains but in well-appointed hotels.
It must have been an experience of a lifetime for a railway buff but the talk did not depict the beauty of New England in the Fall.