October 9, 2008
Rail trail ground broken
CAROLE KLEMENT HUXEL
The Friends of the Goffstown Rail Trail celebrated its first major construction project by hosting a groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 4.
The 5.5-mile trail begins in Goffstown village and runs roughly parallel to the Piscataquog River to the Pinardville/ West Manchester border. This initial project has been funded by grants through the Recreational Trails Program of the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails.
John Monroe, the Rails Trails National Parks Service Advisor, Robbie Grady, Executive Director of the
Goffstown Main Street Program, former Selectman Barbara Griffin,
Lowell Von Ruden, President
of the Friends of the Goffstown Rail Trail, current Selectman Vivienne Blondeau, and State
Lou D'Allesandro. (Photo courtesy
The history of the Rail Trail begins in 1848, when the New Hampshire Central Railroad was incorporated to extend from Manchester through Bedford, Goffstown, Weare, Henniker,and ultimately to White River Junction, Vt. There were problems with this rail line almost from the beginning, and within a decade, the line was torn up and the tracks removed.
In 1860, Goffstown was able to repeal a law that allowed this removal and saved the bit of track that remained, the area between Manchester and North Weare.
A significant development took place in 1870, when a milk train was added, providing new sources of revenue for the local dairy farmers. Although by now it was well known that the original rail bed was on the wrong side of the river and faced serious difficulties due to the terrain, by 1893 the rails were all relaid.
In 1900, an “electric road” opened from Mast Road to Goffstown village, and it finally became convenient for Goffstown residents to travel back and forth to Manchester. This line became the connection point to the Uncanoonuc Incline Railway and Development Co., which was established in 1903 and ran from the corner of Mast and Wallace roads up to the summit of Mount Uncanoonuc.
By 1919, there were four passenger trains and one freight train traveling from North Weare through Goffstown to Manchester.
Over the next decades, the local lines were expanded to include the New Boston line and the Milford lines.
In the 1970s, Goffstown still had the rail line, but there was no longer any train. The possibility of functional use had not been considered, once the area became overgrown and the Goffstown Covered Bridge burned in 1976.
In 1993, the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission identified the Goffstown Railroad Corridor in the Commission’s Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.
After years of hard work and dedication, Goffstown was able to purchase the property in 2004, and ever since, the Friends have been busy with clean ups, design work, adopting a trial use ordinance, writing grants, getting the surveys done and completing the engineering work. A big step was taken in 2006 when the Rail Trail was selected to receive technical assistance from the Rivers and Trails Program of the National Parks Service.