Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Old Colony and Newport Railroad

The Old Colony and Newport Railway was the product of a merger between two railroad charters in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The Old Colony and Fall River Railroad merged with the Newport and Fall River Railroad, which had chartered a railroad running from Newport, RI to the Massachusetts state line. This merger allowed the line to continue to Fall River, MA, which it began doing so in 1864.

Steam engine along the Newport Branch. Image: Old Colony & Newport Railway
In 1865, with the acquisition of the Dighton and Somerset Railroad, provided a direct connection to Boston via Braintree, MA.

It, along with Cape Cod Railroad, merged in 1872 to become the Old Colony Railroad, which it remained until the company was leased to the New York New Haven & Hartford in 1893.

Image: "Two ladies are waiting at Middletown Station for the train to Newport." Trains Rhode Island
Traffic along the Newport Branch began to decline post World War I. Bus and automobile traffic replaced much of the passenger traffic. Service continually declined front then on, with the exception of military trains during World War II. The branch survived acquisition of the NYNH&H by Penn Central, and onto Conrail, who filed for its abandonment south of Fall River in the early 1970's.

The State of Rhode Island purchased the right of way, and today the line supports both a tourist train, the Newport & Narragansett Bay Railroad, and the Rhode Island Division of Rail Explorers, a railbike excursion using the same right of way.

Image: Rail Explorers
From Fall River, MA to Melville, RI, the tracks are currently out of service. Here's the right of way, showing the tourist operation (in red), and the abandonment (in green).

N&NB Railroad Dinner Train. Image: Wikipedia Commons
A museum for the branch line closed in 2016.

Thanks as always for reading!

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