Bedford’s Train History is Topic of Historical Society Program on March 10

February 29, 2024
William Deen will be the guest speaker at the next meeting of the Bedford Historical Society on March 10. He will talk about train service in Bedford. Courtesy photo

Submitted by the Bedford Historical Society:

Many residents are unfamiliar with the history of train service in Bedford. Nevertheless, William Deen, President of the Friends of Depot Park, will enlighten all who attend the Bedford Historical Society’s program on Sunday, March 10, using details from his recently-published book, “Minuteman Railroad: Boston and Maine’s Lexington Branch.” 

This program, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 2 p.m. in the 3rd floor “Great Room” at Old Town Hall, 16 South Road. A short refreshment and social period will be followed around 2:15 p.m. with announcements by the Society’s President, Sharon McDonald.  

Deen’s new book on the Minuteman Railroad is an oversize volume containing 212 pages, 191 photographs, and 27 maps. It tells the colorful history of the Boston and Maine’s (B&M’s) Lexington branch that operated from 1846 to 1981. 

Deen, a professor emeritus of chemical engineering at MIT, has been fascinated with trains ever since he built models as a child. He will describe much of Bedford’s colorful railroad history, including the early narrow-gauge Billerica and Bedford line and the double-track B&M service, linking Bedford to Lexington, Arlington, Concord, and Billerica. 

Passenger service was extremely popular and vital to the growth of these towns. In 1900, the B&M line ran 28 steam trains daily in Bedford, 44 in Lexington, and 60 in Arlington.  

Deen’s talk will cover what he describes as all aspects of Bedford’s railroad history: “physical characteristics, schedules, the way trains were operated, its reason for being – and its very profound effects on the five towns it served.”  

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