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Rutland to Bellows Falls, VT

Adventurers in New England

Chapter Eight

Rutland to Bellows Falls, Vermont

Robin Bowers

Text and Photos by Author
The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

June 16, 2015


    Today started with a nice breakfast in the motel's dining room. Our train left at 10:00 A.M., so we were not rushed as much today. After breakfast, we drove to the Rutland Amtrak station(RUD). The reason for today's later start was a. the Ethan Allen Express departs at 8:00A.M. for its trip to Manhattan and b. there were several freight trains going through the station tracks. So we boarded after all that activity was done. Around 9:45 A.M. today's train arrived at the station.We had a light shower all morning and it was to last all day. So not a good day for picture taking. We did one photo runby on the way to Bellows Falls and none on the way back.

    For today's trip we will be eastbound to the Vermont and New Hampshire border and the Connecticut River which divides the states. Yesterday we were westbound and crossed into New York State. So after today we will have crossed the entire state of Vermont east to west. The first part of today's trip will be a repeat of Sunday's Rutland to Ludlow photo freight run. But today I 'll be again riding in the dome car, albeit a similar to yesterdays dome but different car.  Today's car is the #512, Tanana.

The S&NC dome is a former Santa Fe full-length dome. Iowa Pacific owns a fleet of these former ATSF cars, all built in 1954 by Budd. Budd built 14 of these cars for the Santa Fe, often known as Big Domes by rail enthusiasts. The cars were built to two basic designs, featuring a cocktail lounge and nurse's room (506-513 - Lot #9646-129) and a bar-lounge and crew dormitory (550-555- Lot#9646-146). Known as "the world's most beautiful railroad car," the cars served on a number of trains such as El Capitan, Chicagoan, Kansas Cityan, San Francisco Chief, Texas Chief, and The Chief.

The Santa Fe eventually sold 13 of the cars to Auto Train, keeping one as a part of their business car fleet. The Auto Train cars were eventually sold, with many ending up with Westours for their Alaska Railroad operations, starting in 1987. They were rebuilt by Westours 1986-1994, and again in 1995-1996. They were sold to Iowa Pacific 2007-2009 after Holland America received its new domes starting in 2003.

    The cars are set up with 66 forward facing, booth and side facing seats upstairs and 22 dining room seats and kitchen downstairs. Many consider these cars to be premium heritage equipment in operation today, and they can be found on charters and passenger operations around the country. Today's car (512) started out as ATSF 512, to Auto Train #541, NYS&W, to Westours Tanana, to Iowa Pacific in 2009 and renamed Alpine View (#800125), assigned to Saratoga & North Creek.

dome 2459

Dome car # 512 Tanana.


Waiting in the queue to board the dome car.


Dome car 512.

inside 2425

Today we have leather seats vs the cloth ones yesterday.

    After boarding the dome car, I again found an empty seat at a table with Simon and Clive whom I meet on yesterday's dome trip. At ten o'clock our train left the station for the Connecticut River.

     MP  52.48  Rutland - This location is the current Amtrak Station in Rutland, based upon the mileposts of the Bellows Falls Subdivision.

    MP   52.0    Howe Scale Avenue - This was the main entrance to the Howe Scale industrial complex

    MP   51.7    Main Street - To the east are the remains of the old Rutland Railway Light & Power Company trolley barns, now part of the Trolley Square complex that includes the Comfort Inn and a restaurant. The Vermont State Fairgrounds are to the southwest.

2426 country side  

Leaving Rutland, VT


The suburb of Rutland.


Near East Clarendon where the Appalachia Trail crosses the railroad to the south of here.

2429 river

2431 out door

View from the vestibule door.

  MP    29.74  Okemo Mountain Resort - To the west is Okemo Mountain. The base of the mountain is at 1,150 feet while the summit is 3,344 feet above sea level. This gives the ski resorts on the mountain the largest vertical drop in southern Vermont at 2,200 feet. There are a number of resort complexes serving the 119 ski trails.     
    MP    27.20    Ludlow - The former Rutland Railroad depot, built in 1887, still stands, although its second story is gone after an early fire. The station is located just east of the bridge over Depot Street, and was restored as part of the 1977 Vermont Bicentennial celebration.The station was built with two waiting rooms, one for men on the south end and another one for ladies on the north end.
    Here at Ludlow we had our first photo runby.


Ludlow Depot.


Coach 1306 is one of 25 former Central Railroad of New Jersey steel commuter coaches built in 1930-1931 by Pressed Steel Car Company.The car was sold to Green Mountain Railroad in July 16, 1984. It seats 74 in walkover coach seating.


Dover Harbor.
    What is today the Dover Harbor started life looking quite a bit different. This heavyweight passenger car was built in July, 1923, by the Pullman Company as the Maple Shade. This car was a combine baggage-library (lot 4698, Plan 2951), featuring a four section, twelve seat lounge, a barber shop and a twenty-eight foot baggage area. The car was assigned to, and painted for, the Pennsylvania Railroad (Tuscan red), and operated on many named trains, including the Broadway Limited and the Spirit of St. Louis.
     After just eleven years, the car was rebuilt with six double bedrooms, a buffet, and a lounge - part of a nine car Dover Series built to plan 4015. Named the Dover Harbor, the car even received air conditioning. With the May 1934 rebuild, the car was painted in the standard Pullman green and gold livery and assigned to the Michigan Central Railroad, a subsidiary of the New York Central Railroad. By 1939, the Dover Harbor, Dover Plains and Dover Bay, operated on the westbound Lake Sore Limited and the eastbound Commodore Vanderbilt between New York City and Chicago.
    In 1967, the car left Pullman ownership for the last time when it was sold to the first of four private owners, and eventually became the property of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society on November 30, 1979. The D.C. Chapter has worked to rebuild the car, updating what is required to make is usable in Amtrak service while preserving its historic interior.  According to the Chapter's website, the Dover Harbor is "the only heavy weight Pullman revenue car fully operational for private use on Amtrak Passenger trains." For more information, check out the website

    The Dover Harbor is actually a very appropriate car for operations on these former Rutland Railroad routes. While it didn't operate on the Rutland, between 1954 and 1965, the car was generally assigned to operate between Washington D.C, and Montreal, Canada, on the Washington and the Montrealer. This means that the Dover Harbor was a regular at Bellows Falls (2:33 A.M. southbound on the Washingtonian and 2:07 A.M. northbound on the Montrealer).

2436 mac

# 4 Macintyre.

    The business car Macintyre  has a long and complicated history. This 80-foot long car features an open platform with an observation room which includes a sofa and several observation chairs, A dining room near the kitchen area seats six. Between the two areas are three state rooms and two restrooms.
    What is known about the car's history is rather sketchy, but it is believed that the 80-ton car was built in 1932 by Bethlehem Steel Company in Baltimore, MD. The car was built as Erie #4, but was then sold to the Grand Trunk Western. Glenn Davis, one-time head of the Vermont State Police and later president of the Green Mountain, bought the car and moved it to Montpelier Jct., where he lived in it. The car was moved to Bellows Falls when Davis became president on the GMRC. Davis eventually sold the car to Rock MacIntyre, president of MacIntyre Fuels. When Rock MacIntyre ran into financial difficulties the car became property of the VTR.

2437 #4

Open platform of # 4 Macintyre and GMRC 304, Model GP40, Builder EMD, date 2/71.


VTR 301, builder EMD, model GP40, built 5/67.

gifGreen Mountain Railroad photo runby  video

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    After our two runbys were finished in Ludlow, we reboarded our train to continue on to the Connecticut River.

    MP    25.47     Smithville - At the East Hill Road grade crossing is the Imerys Talc American facility, built in 1974. Many know the facility as the Luzenac Talc Mill. To supply this processing facility, the company has several open pit mines to the south. Talc is used for almost everything as it is soft, water repellent, chemically inert and highly platy. It it us used in paper, paints, plastics, rubber, ceramics, agriculture, food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and soap.

    Imerys Talc America states that "our talc operations started more than a hundred years ago as a cottage industry in the French Pyrenees. Over the last century, we have grown to become the world's leading talc producer, employing 1,000 people on five continents and supply around 15 percent of global demand from 9 mines and 15 processing plants throughout Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United States.
    This is where the freight cars that were brought over on Sunday were destined for. See The Rutland to Smithville Photo Freight - Green Mountain Railroad - June 14, 2015 story.

    MP    22.36    Cavendish - Cavendish was first charted by New Hampshire on October 12, 1761, and Cavendish was rechartered by New York on June 16, 1762. Cavendish was most likely named for William Cavendish, the fourth Duke of Devonshire. Between 1977 and 1994, the Town of Cavendish was home to dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

    MP    13.50    Chester - Chester Station, known as station #265 and "CR" by the Rutland Railroad, and "CS" by the Vermont Rail System, is actually located north of downtown at the Depot Street/Highway 103 grade crossing at an elevation of 570 feet. The first station was built here in 1851, but it burned and was replaced with the current station in 1871. The station is described as a classic brick Norman-style building where all the trim was done in brick. The station has been used by the Green Mountain Railroad as a part of their excursion train operations.

    The Green Mountain Flyer has three round trips each day from the depot in Chester. So leave the car and the crowded roads behind and see the beauty of the fall foliage in the Green Mountains by train! Serving Chester-Ludlow-Rockgham during September and October.

    Continuing my dome ride to the Connecticut River, I had good conversations with Clive and Simon talking about trips they have taken. A friend of theirs, Martin, stop by to chat. He was also from the UK and fellow conventioneer who made the trip across the pond. Martin Shrubsole has an interesting story to tell. He and his wife, Liz, operate and run a complex model railway in a garden, using simplified versions of all the normal railway operating disciplines (shunting, signalling, working to timetables etc.) It's a "hands on" experience, suitable for all ages with only one absolute rule, namely, "anyone causing collisions gets sent home."
    Their garden model railroad is located in North East Buckinghamshire about 50 miles north east of London. Somesay Island Railway is built to approximately 1/24th scale, runs on 1 1/4" gauge track, and tries to reproduce the transport service for the imaginary Channel Island of Somesay. Trains are battery powered, and are all specifically built to stand up to the fact this is NOT a "don't touch, stand and watch" railway. Why do this?  Martin answered: "We're keen to support the work of the charity Marie Curie Cancer Care, and we are not into running marathons. However, over 15 years of operations, we have found that several hundred visitors have enjoyed themselves sufficiently "working on the railroad" that we have been able to forward contributions near 48,000 to help the work of Marie Curie Cancer Care."

    You can access Martin and Liz at Somesay Island Railway.

    As we were traveling along on this dark rainy day going through the maple tree forest, the dome car decided it would like to be a cold meat locker for the riders.
Fortunately for the dome car occupants, this car travels with an assigned mechanic at all times. This car doesn't go out on the road without me the mechanic said. He was kept busy adjusting the temperature in the different areas and levels of the dome during the entire trip.

    Our forward progress was stopped when we reach the Connecticut River.  We are stopped in Riverside at MP 2.20 in The Riverside Reload Center that includes 40 acres of outdoor storage and 34,000 square feet of indoor storage. We had been scheduled to continue on to MP 0.24 Diamond and Bellows Falls at MP 0.20. Today the traffic was heavy and the train crew decided that it would take too much time to try and cross the river and into Bellows Falls station and return. So we switched engines (front to back) with a run around our train. After that it was time to return back to Rutland.

    The Connecticut River serves as the border between New Hampshire and Vermont. It is the longest river in New England, flowing roughly north-south for 410 miles from near the Quebec border to Long Island Sound at Saybrook, Connecticut. Historian Edwin Bacon called the Connecticut River the Mississippi of New England. Its valley drains a watershed area of over 11,000 square miles. Every major city in Western New England sits on the banks of the Connecticut or one of its major tributaries.

     The Connecticut River narrows dramatically into a rocky gorge between Bellows Falls and Walpole, NH. Ages ago, Native Americans gathered seasonally at the Great Falls to harvest migrating salmon and shad. Even today, Atlantic salmon or American shad still swim through the area. This narrow area made it easy to build a bridge spanning the river. The first bridge across the river was built here in 1785 by Enoch Hale. The bridge ensured that stagecoach lines running between Boston and upstate New York passed through the town and spurred its development as a transportation hub. This bridge made the area a major crossroads for early turnpikes. A canal was chartered around the falls in 1791 and rails followed during the mid-1800's. Today, much of the river is still drawn off into the canal for power generation.

    On our return trip I noticed several maple tree groves. The trees were tapped for sap gathering and have plastic tubing running from each tap on each tree to the sugar shack for collecting. This replaces the bucket system of gathering sap and then carrying it to the sugar shack for cooking. Also the closed system keeps the debris out of sap. Looking at these groves with all the tubing crossing back and forth its looks like a spider web made by a large spider. 

    It was approaching half past seven when we arrived at Rutland station.

station sign 2458

evgin 301 2445

engin 304 2446

2451 train


    After Chris and I left the Rutland Amtrak station, we decided that carry out from KFC would hit the spot for dinner. We stopped at the KFC on So. Main St to pick up our chicken dinner and then headed to the motel and our room to relax, eat dinner and watch some TV.

    Then it was the end of a exciting day of train riding.

    Tomorrow no train ride, I will be taking a tour by bus to several tourist highlights.

    Dover Harbor web site.

    Somesay Island Railway, UK  web site.

    Scenic Vermont Train Rides  web site.

    Thanks for reading !

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