What’s the Story: Andover man solves railroad track mystery
Franklin railroad track bent by heat. Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »
LARRY CHASE, 72, has been walking along the Winnipesaukee River trail in Franklin for years, frequently passing the now-abandoned railroad tracks that run along a bridge over the river.
A few years ago, Chase, an Andover resident, noticed something strange: a kink in the railroad tracks, near where they run over what’s known as the Upside-Down Covered Bridge. At first he thought the kink was man-made, but something about that didn’t quite add up. “I just assumed somebody put it there to keep trains from crossing the old bridge, but that’s a pretty awful way to stop trains from going over the bridge.”
He started asking around and wasn’t able to find a good answer until he talked to Leigh Webb of the Franklin Historical Society.
The answer to what caused the bend in the tracks? Most likely, a fire.
Railroad tracks have been known to kink from extreme heat, and Webb and others believe the bend is a result of a fire on the bridge underneath the tracks. The fire would have given off enough heat to reach the tracks and cause them to buckle. Webb said others told him it’s something that can also happen in areas with extremely warm climates.
Trains stopped using the rail sometime in the 1960s or 1970s, Webb said. He doesn’t know the exact date of the fire, but guesses it was sometime in the 1980s.