Friends of the Northern Rail Trail in Merrimack County (FNRT-MC) announce plans for new amenities on the rail trail thanks to commendable work by eager beaver Steve Rayno of Franklin.  Not only did he take charge of clearing a large area around the old railroad engine turntable site along the rail trail in Franklin last fall, but he is trying to restore another special site, a spring near the Franklin/Andover town line. To fund the effort, Steve organized a bike raffle netting the organization over $700 in January.


Steve is a relatively new member of the FNRT-MC board and has proven to be a strong advocate of the rail trail.  He is an active rail trail user himself both on a bike and snowmobile.  While exploring the latest section of the trail built in Franklin last fall, he was excited to find the remains of the old engine turntable.  This circle of granite blocks is where engines were turned to head up the Bristol Branch Line to Newfound Lake from the track otherwise headed to White River Junction, Vermont.  Steve reports that he and his buddy, Billy Hurd, removed about 85 tires plus truckloads of debris from the area.  And with the help of Thomas Richardson encroaching trees were cut down as well.  Steve envisions eventually turning the area into a grassy picnic park with historical markers.


More recently another historical site has become the focus of Steve’s attention.  He had heard tales of a famous spring head and decided to investigate where it might be located in relation to the rail trail.  He found it near the Andover and Franklin town line and is working with the property owners to relocate access to it for rail trail users.  Known in times past as Cold Spring from records going back to 1842, the spring was prized for its water quality.  People came from far and wide to fill jugs and milk cans. “We know the spring passes drinking water tests so, assuming we can get permissions from the state and property owners, the fresh water spring would be an added amenity to the trail as well as a point of interest,” comments Alex Bernhard, FNRT-MC vice president.  


The FNRT-MC board voted to support Steve by designating any moneys that Steve is able to raise to benefit the turntable park and spring renovation projects. To this end, Steve came up with two beautiful bikes and three other prizes to raffle off at the Andover Snowmobile Club Spaghetti Supper on January 28 at the Andover Elementary School, grossing FNRT-MC $750 for the effort. The Andover Snowmobile Club, an FNRT partner, was kind enough to allow the raffle to be a part of the night’s festivities.  Allan Houle presided at the microphone and Steve’s son Shawn along with Bob Ward assisted.  FNRT-MC president Bob Ward wrote the FNRT-MC board recently, “I just want to let everyone know how successful the ‘winter bike raffle’ was.  Kudos to Steve Rayno for his good idea and making that idea a reality. Way to go Steve!”


On Friday, November 11, the Friends of the Northern Rail Trail remembered the late Peter Oren Crowell, an FNRT board member, by riding the Northern Rail Trail from Potter Place north toward Danbury inthe Second Annual Peter Crowell Ride.  It was a blustery but sunny morning, one that Peter Crowell would have enjoyed with his grandchildren, two of whom were in the trailer in the photo.  A combination of Crowell family members and FNRT volunteers commemorated Mr. Crowell’s indomitable spirit and his love of bicycling, the rail trail, and the outdoors.  Pictured in the photo are, from left to right:  Myra Mayman, Board secretary; Peter Crowell’s son, Ben, with his son Corbin and nephew Hunter in the trailer; Ben’s wife Abby Crowell, FNRT volunteer Chris Norris of East Andover and FNRT Board member Steve Darling of Andover.  The can-do spirit of Peter Crowell was evident in this ride.


Friends of the Northern Rail Trail (FNRT) volunteer Ed Hiller demonstrates the attention to detail that has been involved in his project of repainting the old Northern Railroad mileposts on the rail trail. 26 mileposts from MP-90 to MP-115 have been painstakingly restored using vintage fonts. Other rail trail volunteers including Steve Robinson, Ricker Miller, and Steve Rayno have cleared the areas around them in preparation. These markers “give a feeling of historical significance to the rail corridor, and also provide trail users with an idea of where they are and how far they have come,” Ed says.  Thank you for your devotion to railroad history and rail trail users, Ed.


Check out a video from NH Chronicle – Turning Rails into Trails (2008)