Open House to Feature Landmarks of Bedford’s Rail History

February 17, 2023
In addition to a Feb 26 Open House event, the Freight House and railcar are open on most weekends from May through November, depending on the availability of volunteers. Image – Julie McCay Turner

The Friends of Bedford Depot Park will hold an open house on Sunday, Feb. 26, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Freight House, 120 South Rd., and the Budd rail car next door.

The event also will celebrate the publication of the organization’s book, Minuteman Railroad: Boston & Maine’s Lexington Branch. 

The agenda will feature historical exhibits, sales of books and merchandise, and refreshments in the adjacent Rail Diesel Car #6211. This is the only day the Freight House and railcar will be open to the public until May.

William Deen, acting president of the Friends, said a feature to see inside the Freight House is “a model railroad that includes an HO-scale depiction of the Bedford depot area around 1960.”

Friends of Bedford Depot Park’s latest publication Minuteman Railroad: Boston & Maine’s Lexington Branch will is available for purchase at the Freight House and on their website store. Image:

“Highlighting the various displays about Bedford’s railroad and industrial history inside the railcar are enlarged reproductions of several full-page color magazine ads created in the early 1950s by the car’s manufacturer, the Budd Company of Philadelphia,” he continued, adding, “The paintings Budd commissioned for those ads are representative of the best commercial art of that period.”

The railcar itself, built in 1955, “has been meticulously restored inside and out,” Deen said. “Visitors can take a seat and, with a little imagination, pretend they are about to depart Bedford for Boston in the 1960s.”

Friends of Bedford Depot Park is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization founded in 1995. It helped establish and now supports Bedford Depot Park, was instrumental in the acquisition and restoration of #6211 for static display, researches and preserves the railroad history of Bedford and adjacent communities, and operates the Freight House welcome center as a public service.

The open house will be hosted by Friends of Depot Park volunteers. 

Deen is also the author of Minuteman Railroad, a 212-page hardcover published in January. It traces the long and colorful history of the Boston & Maine Railroad’s Lexington Branch, which served Arlington, Lexington, Bedford, Concord, and Billerica. 

Operating from 1846 to 1981, it began as a country short line, evolved into a double-track railroad with dozens of daily passenger trains, and ultimately reverted to a quiet existence in which the train crews knew the passengers by name. Thirty years ago, the Minuteman Bikeway opened along the right-of-way from Arlington to Bedford. 

“The book explores its creation, growth, and decline, how it was operated, and what it meant to the towns it served, with the aid of 191 photos, 27 maps, and 37 other graphics,” Deen reported.

The Freight House and railcar are open on most weekends from May through November, depending on the availability of volunteers.

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