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Charles River/Boston and Maine Bascule Bridges - Boston, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 22.107 W 071° 03.912
19T E 329951 N 4692751
Quick Description: This pair of bascule type draw bridges allow MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak trains to cross the Charles River to and from North Station on the south side of the river.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 10/2/2011 1:52:37 PM
Waymark Code: WMCQ8B
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 7

Long Description:
In Boston, near the mouth of the Charles River and behind the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital is a pair of bascule bridges that are constantly crossed by passenger trains throughout the day and most of the night. Occasionally, they are raised to let boat traffic, mostly pleasure craft, pass either to the new locks and out to Boston Harbor, or up river into the freshwater Charles River Basin.

The bridges are the surviving two of four bridges at that location - back when railroads were pretty much the only reliable way to travel. There are four tracks - two on each bridge.

The bridges were built in 1931 by Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville, PA, based on the designs by Keller and Harrington of Chicago, Illinois. It is a truss design with a length of 92 feet.

These aren't the first draw bridges at this location. In fact, the first draw bridge built here was the first movable railroad bridge in North America, built originally for the Boston and Lowell Railroad around 1835. The Boston and Lowell was one of the original three railroads to connect Boston with other cities, which were built between 1831 and 1835. As the name implies, it connected Boston, a financial city and port with the city of Lowell, a new large scale textile city. The terminal was near the present day North Station/Boston Garden. In 1887, the railroad fell into financial trouble and the Boston & Maine (B&M) started leasing the railroad - effectively taking control of it. In 1973, the troubled B&M sold the passenger operations to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), which operates trains over the old B&M tracks today. Amtrak came in the 2000s with a new train route to Portland, ME, called the Noreaster, which became a popular train.

The best places to view the bridges are at a viewpoint behind the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital to the southwest and the new Charles River dam to the northeast. There is plenty of train traffic on the bridges. North Station is the terminal for all the northern MBTA commuter train routes to cities like Fitchburg, Lowell, Lawrence, and Newburyport. It is also the terminus for one Amtrak route, the Noreaster, which goes to Portland, ME. Most of the time, the bridge is down, since there is much more train traffic than boat traffic. However, if you are fortunate, you may be present when the bridges are raised to allow mostly pleasure boat traffic to passby. You can even take one of the trains to travel over one of the bridges.

Sources:

Wikipedia (Boston and Lowell Railroad)
(visit link)

(Charles River (Commuter Rail) Bridge):
(visit link)

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority:
(visit link)
Bridge Type: Truss

Bridge Usage: Railroad

Moving Bridge: Bascule (two sections, lift up from center)

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