WFTA Walk 2/4/18
Walking the Old Mass Central
On Sunday, February 4, twenty-five folks joined walk leaders Joel Angiolillo and Paul Penfield on a pre-Super Bowl hike down the Mass Central from the abandoned Weston Station on Church Street to the Waltham-Weston town line. Paul Penfield, from the Rail Trail Advisory Committee, handed out his “Field Guide to the Treasures of the Trail,” which marks the location of dozens of historical items on and next to the trail.
In addition to historical features of the trail, including the old train depot and the trestle bridge, the hardy hikers also learned a little about the transfer station (3000 tons of trash processed a year), the solar array (energy credits received to cover 40% of the Town’s electricity bill), high voltage transmission lines (an important part of the New England grid), the Land’s Sake Christmas Tree Farm (cut your own tree from Land’s Sake next year!) and the Chestnut Seed Orchard (breeding disease resistant Chestnuts). However, the number one topic of discussion was the past, present and future of the Mass Central right-of-way, owned by the MBTA today, but with long term leases held by Eversource and the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Construction on the trail will begin this coming Spring!
Report on the Rail Trail Walk October 29:
Pam Fox kindly provided some great photos. It was a damp afternoon, but there was a good turnout nonetheless.
Here is the report from Molly Varnau and Paul Penfield:
On Sunday, October 29 a group of 37 met at the old train depot at 55 Church St. All children in attendance were given badges by the Weston Girl Scout Troop. The tour kicked-off with a discussion given by Phyllis Halpern and Pam Fox of the historical and architectural importance of the depot.
We then walked east on the old B&M railroad tracks about a 1/4 mile and then veered left into the Forbes Conservation Land. Molly Varnau explained the Forbes Land is celebrating its 25 year anniversary of being open to the town for public enjoyment. To commemorate the event, this past summer the Weston Garden Club installed new weather-resistant signs, added 14 new plant identification markers and reinforced bridges and boardwalks. She explained that the property was formerly a wildflower sanctuary owned by Celeste Forbes (a founding member of the Weston Garden Club) and her husband Mac. This special 2.5 acre property is comprised of both upland woodlands as well as wetlands, including swamp, a stream with small waterfalls and a seasonal pond.
After walking though Forbes Land, Paul Penfield led the tour east down the railroad tracks where he pointed-out interesting historical artifacts such as a former granite mile marker and the remains of a telegraph pole that once served the electrified train signals. Before crossing the trestle bridge, Paul explained that because the rails curve over the bridge, this created an engineering problem when trains of different speeds needed to cross the bridge. We learned that crews of railroad workers routinely pulled-up the track and inserted shims to decrease the banking for slower freight trains and then removed the shims for faster passenger trains. Once the group crossed the bridge we stood on the Weston/Waltham town line as Paul pointed out the remnants of a railroad telltale, one of only a few remaining from the days when trains were slowed manually by brakemen who stood on top of trains and needed a warning if a bridge was approaching.
The group returned to the parking lot before significant rain developed. We enjoyed cider, pumpkin rolls and oatmeal cookies before departing. A good time was had by all.
In the News:
1. The Weston Town Website provides updates on the status of the Rail Trail.
2. Some articles have appeared in the Weston/Wayland Town Crier about the Rail Trail: