Walking the Northern Rail Trail in Concord

  • Tim Blagden of the Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail, speaks at a section of the Pan Am railroad on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from a walk along a Concord section of the Pan AM railroad on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from a walk along a Concord section of the Pan AM railroad on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from a walk along a Concord section of the Pan AM railroad on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from a walk along a Concord section of the Pan Am railroad on Thursday. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews photos / Monitor staff

  • Vegetation grows through a railroad tie on a Concord section of the Pam Am railroad on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from a walk along a Concord section of the Pan AM railroad on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Dick Lemieux of the Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail pauses during a hike along a Concord section of the Pan AM railroad on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from a walk along a Concord section of the Pan AM railroad on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Craig Tufts (front) of the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission leads hikers through an overgrown section of the Pan AM railroad in Concord on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Bittersweet grows along a Concord section of the Pan AM railroad on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from a walk along a Concord section of the Pan AM railroad on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Tim Blagden (center) of the Friends of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail points out the group’s location on a Concord section of the Pan Am railroad Thursday.

  •  A section of the Pan AM railroad that runs along farmland owned by the state’s prison in Concord is shown on Thursday, October 25, 2018. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, along with other agencies, are trying to extend the trail, which begins in Boscawen and stretches to Lebanon, into Concord. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/29/2018 5:20:53 PM

A group of rail trail enthusiasts headed out into a blustery Thursday morning to see what could be the future of the Northern Rail Trail.

The Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail, the Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, and the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission hosted a hike along a section of Pan Am’s recently abandoned Northern Railroad in Concord.

The organizations are working to convert the 6.5-mile long railroad bed into a multipurpose and non-motorized trail that will connect to the existing 58-mile long Northern Rail Trail, which stretches from Boscawen to Lebanon.

There are two railroad rights-of-way to the east of North State Street in Concord near the state prison. The one nearer to the road – less than 100 feet in some places – was part of a line running to Claremont that was fully abandoned by 2008.

The newly abandoned line, which hikers walked Thursday, runs at times alongside the Merrimack River, all the way north past the old Sewalls Falls dam site and the Hannah Duston memorial. It also skirts lands owned by the Morrill family and farmland once tended by the state’s prison, which now sits unused due to lack of staffing.

The state didn’t want to buy the Claremont line when it came available, and so it fell into the hands of various private property owners or remained under Pan Am’s control. Between Concord and Hopkinton alone, that once-continuous line has been broken up into more than 40 parcels.

The Northern Railway was built in 1847, according to the Friends of the Northern Rail Trail’s website. Passenger service was discontinued in 1965; by the next decade, freight was also discontinued.




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