Activities at Bedford Depot Park on Aug. 19 to Celebrate Town’s Railroad Heritage

August 7, 2023
Bedford Depot Park will be the scene of an upcoming Railroad Day on Saturday, August 19. Image (c) JMcCT

Early in the morning of Aug. 4, 1873, the first Middlesex Central Railroad passenger train arrived in Bedford from Concord, en route to Boston. “There seems to have been no ceremony at the time,” said William Deen, president of the Friends of Bedford Depot Park. 

“To help rectify that omission, on Saturday, Aug. 19, from 1 to 4 p.m., the Friends will host a celebration of the 150th anniversary of what was the beginning of a century of rail service to Bedford.”  

All activities will be free and open to the public.

Railroad Day will begin with a 1 p.m. guided walk around what was once the Bedford railyard, starting at the picnic area behind the former passenger depot, 80 Loomis St.  Deen said the walk will cover about one mile.

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At 3 p.m. in the railcar adjacent to the Freight House, 120 South Road, Deen will give a presentation about the early history of the railroad and what it meant to Bedford. The speaker is the author of the recently published history of the local railroad, Minuteman Railroad. He will explain the significance of the Depot Park buildings and other artifacts that can be seen. 

In between, light refreshments will be available in the railcar. Throughout the afternoon, ongoing activities will include arts and crafts, Lego building, and railroad stories. 

The Freight House and railcar, with their operating model railroad and museum displays, will be open as usual that day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Middlesex Central Railroad was created by the Boston & Lowell Railroad to extend passenger service to Bedford and Concord, according to Deen’s book.

“The inauguration of train travel, much faster and more comfortable than what had been provided by stagecoaches, was decisive in the town’s gradual transformation from an independent farming community to a suburb,” said Deen.

Minuteman Railroad quotes a book by Town Historian Sharon McDonald on how the arrival of the railroad brought change to the small town: “Suddenly there was an upswelling of energy in the village and people bought land, constructed new houses, opened businesses, planted shade trees and flowers, and mowed their lawns.”

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