Friends of the Northern Rail Trail in Merrimack County (FNRT-MC) and Grafton County (FNRT-GC) were each  awarded Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grants from the N.H.  Bureau of Trails recently.  FNRT-MC, which has won RTP funding 8 times since 2005, plans to extend the rail trail south about three more miles from its present terminus at the Webster Farm in West Franklin, N.H. to the historic Gerrish Station and Merrimack County Jail and Home in Boscawen, pending final reviews. Starting November 8th the trail bed and existing ballast will be graded.  Phase 2 of this project will begin November 12th to spread, grade, and compact the new surfacing, consisting of granite stone dust. This second phase should be completed in 3 to 4 days, weather permitting.  


FNRT-MC’s sister organization has also secured grant funds from the N.H. Trails Bureau and will use them to resurface about 7/10 of a mile of existing rail trail from mile marker 19.4 on Rt 4 in Canaan as far as the Orange Rock Cut.  “The hard pack resurfacing project will be bid out and hopefully enough funding will be left to do a little work around the Tewksbury Pond gates as well.  The FNRT-GC group hopes to start work in November,” says Trail Project Administrator Ken Warren.
Franklin Savings Bank awards FNRT $2,500
Franklin Savings Bank President, Jeff Savage, announced that FNRT has been awarded a $2,500 Fund for Community Advancement grant for the extension of the recreational trail from Holy Cross Rd. in W. Franklin to Gerrish Depot in Boscawen.


Sarah Stanley, Assistant Vice President – Marketing & Community Relations Officer commented, “we enjoy being a part of this valuable area resource that provides alternative transportation as well as four-season recreation.”
This generous gift by the Franklin Savings Bank is very much appreciated by FNRT-MC and will allow the organization to get that much closer to completing its goal of reaching Concord, N.H. in the near future.
Restored Bristol Line Turntable in Franklin
The recently restored granite foundation of the old railroad turntable in Franklin on the Northern Rail Trail is a sight to see. 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.  The restoration work was done by Billy Hurd, Thomas Richardson, Zak Adams and Steve Rayno all of Franklin with funding provided by Friends of the Northern Rail Trail in Merrimack County. Newly cleaned up, seeded and restored after years of neglect, it is already an attractive and popular trailside amenity.


Additionally, the city of Franklin has mowed both sides of the rail trail from the Andover/Franklin town line to Webster Place opening up views and widening trail access.  Friends of the rail trail are extremely grateful for all of the maintenance help offered both by the city of Franklin and rail trail volunteers.


Potter Place in Andover, N.H. is a little gem of an historic village which serves as the site of the Friends of the Northern Rail Trail’s main trailhead and information kiosk. In fact there is an entirely charming event called the Old Time Fair being held there this Sunday, August 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. featuring pump car rides, great food, an auction and tag sale.  

 

The folks at the Andover Historical Society (AHS) get the credit for bringing the appearance of the site up to the level we enjoy today.  The train station has been recently painted looking as it did in its hayday and the Potter farm foundation shade garden is in wonderful shape. One less prominent piece of railroad history though, the telephone box at the Potter Place station, has suffered from lack of attention over the years and caught the eye of the ever vigilant AHS member and railroad buff Ed Hiller. “The post was leaning over, the rear wooden panels rotted away, and the lettering on the front almost completely gone,” Ed points out. In his usual focused way, Ed Hiller took on the task of restoring it to its original look just as he has done for 30 plus granite mile markers along the rail trail.

 

To do so, Ed contacted the B&M Railroad Historical Society archivist who provided him with a detailed B&M specification for the box, including dimensions, hardware, lettering, etc. along with a picture of a box that could be used as a guide for the proper colors of paint.  “It seems that these boxes are now rather rare,” says Ed.
The first step in restoring the box was to straighten the mounting post.  With the help of Andover resident and woodworker, Harvey Best the rotten wood was replaced and the box back was restored to sturdy condition.  “I then repainted the box with the specified green and white stripes, repaired the roofing, and stenciled on the lettering.  It is now back in place along side the track in Potter Place, looking much better than before! Still remaining is the reinstallation of the padlock and hardware, which awaits location of a working key.”

 

Thanks, Ed for all of the restoration projects you do to enhance people’s enjoyment of the old Northern Railroad corridor.

 

 

About midway along the full 49 miles of the parklike Northern Rail Trail there is a brand new bike rack attached to the informational kiosk at Potter Place in Andover. It is a result of the “We build It Forward” community effort sponsored R P Johnson’s Hardware who undertakes building projects one day a year offering supplies and volunteer labor. FNRT is delighted and grateful to have its trailhead ammenity chosen as one of the 13 other jobs completed on the Saturday, June 23, 2012 workday this year.

 

Potter Place is a lovely spot to take a break while enjoying the rail trail.  On weekends the Andover Historical Society (AHS) opens its museums to the public from 10 to 1 on Saturday and 12:30 to 3 on Sundays.  The Emons general store, Potter Place rail station and caboose are well worth a visit and admission is complementary.  Also there are picnic tables, a secret garden in the foundation of the old Potter homestead, the Potter cemetery, seasonal porto-potty and the AHS Oldtime Fair scheduled for Sunday, August 5 to look forward to.

 

New amenities to enhance trail user’s experience along the stretch of the rail trail in Franklin are historical signs erected by FNRT board member Steve Rayno.  “People don’t realize the enormity of the history along this path,” says Steve, “the cultural and commercial history here is rich in fact and legend.”

 

And in Danbury Dick’s general store features wheels of Grafton cheese and other great snacks.  Dick’s is directly across from famous Hippie Hill where time has stopped but not good conversation and comradery.

 

For more information, pictures, maps, weather and membership, visit the two county’s friends group’s websites at www.northernrailtrailofnh.org.