Grasmere Junction to East Milford
The Manchester & Milford was chartered in 1893 by the Concord & Montreal Railroad. Unlike most of New Hampshire's railroads, this one has the distinction of having a detailed history before a charter was granted by the New Hampshire legislature. The late 1800s was still an era where the individual railroad companies were competitive and would do anything to prevent new rail lines of competitors from being built in their own territory.
It's 1893, and the Fitchburg Railroad has just secured a charter for the Brookline & Milford Railroad to extend its branch line to Milford. The Brookline & Milford was an extension of the railroad's branch line that terminated in Brookline, utilizing the many ponds in the area to harvest ice and haul it into Boston. The city of Manchester tempted the Fitchburg Railroad to extend its rail line north from Milford towards the mill city. Applying for a charter to build such a road was going to be a challenge since the Concord & Montreal Railroad had full control of the rail lines in and around Manchester. With the support of the townspeople of Amherst and Bedford wanting a railroad, the Fitchburg Railroad claimed its expansion north would be to provide the towns of Amherst and Bedford with rail service to the town centers. The Concord & Montreal knew right away that it was a ploy to gain access to Manchester.
The Concord & Montreal with the help of the Boston & Maine Railroad pushed the New Hampshire legislature to reject issuing a charter to the Fitchburg Railroad. To make sure that no other railroads were to reach Manchester, the Concord & Montreal was granted the charter to build the line. While the charter was granted in 1893, constructed never started. It was a few years after the Boston & Maine took over the Concord & Montreal in that construction began on the Manchester & Milford. All in the year of 1900 did construction commence and finish and trains begin running.
The lack of motion by the Concord & Montreal to get the railroad constructed may have been for the low demand of a rail line in that area. The little freight moved on the rail line consisted of grain, lumber, and livestock and passenger trains were usually filled with local school children, most heading south to attend Milford High School. In the morning, trains would be readied in New Boston, run into Manchester, and then run down to Milford via the Manchester & Milford. The train would then trace that route back to New Boston. The usual schedule along the line was a mere two round trips a day to accommodate the school children, and these trains were usually "mixed trains", combining freight and passengers in the same train.
What makes matters worse in the history of the Manchester & Milford, by the time the railroad has been built and opened in 1900, the Fitchburg Railroad was also swallowed up into the growing Boston & Maine Railroad the same year. The Manchester & Milford, built to block the Fitchburg Railroad from expanding north, was no longer needed for that purpose. The Manchester & Milford was not used for any through route trains since it paralleled the main line along the Merrimack River. In 1924 the Boston & Maine Railroad undertook a controversial project that involved eliminating unprofitable and redundant rail lines. The Manchester & Milford had made the list and service ended that year, however it wasn't until 1930 that the rails were removed.
The Manchester & Milford was New Hampshire's shortest lived rail line of only 26 years.
Bedford Historical Society. "Railroads." In History of Bedford N.H. 1737-1971. Somersworth, NH: The New Hampshire Publishing Co., 1972.
Frye, Harry A. "All those Branches: Manchester & Milford Branch" B&M Bulletin, Winter 1979-1980.
Karr, Ronald Dale. "Brookline & Pepperell." In The Rail Lines of Southern New England. Pepperell, MA. Branch Line Press, 1995. 209-211.
Lindsell, Robert M. "New Hampshire Central." In The Rail Lines of Northern New England. Pepperell, MA. Branch Line Press, 2000. 123-126.