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Steam & Excursion > Remember Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT?

Date: 08/29/07 05:31
Remember Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT?
Author: wabash2800

I remember "Steamtown USA" in Bellows Falls. I have a few photos and a movie I took of the train ride to Chester when I was about 10 years old. <G> Unfortunatley, our train was not powered by a steam loco that day as there was a big stink going on with the Vermont State Board of Health reference the smoke from the steam loco. Wow, what a bunch of bull. I may still have the button that says, "Steam is Clean". Well, Steamtown moved...

I'll have to dig out my color photos when I get a chance. Even without the steam loco the trip was fun--a covered bridge, waterfalls, fall colors, the quaint town of Chester including a train order signal on the depot and some old Rutland rolling stock nearby if I recall correctly. I had seen some coverage on Steamtown in Railroad Model Craftsman. And my parents were good to me considiering I was only railfan in the family. But the whole family did take in some camping, sightseeing and other things while we were in the Vermont-New Hampshire area.

Date: 08/29/07 06:12
Re: Remember Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT?
Author: prr4828

I remember it well. My dad took me (and sometimes my mom) up there numerous times in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Lotsa rides and an hour or two of Super 8 film of various excursion and runs to Chester, VT. One of the home movies in my collection is of NKP 759 returning to Bellows Falls dead-in-transit at the end of a freight pulled by a pair of B&M EMD end cab switchers.

Also during this time, the suspension bridge between Bellows Falls & North Walpole was demolished. One of the mechanics from Steamtown wandered down to the site where the replacement bridge was then a-building. "What's the clearance over the rail," the mechanic asks. "About sixteen feet," a bridgeworker replies, then,"how tall is your tallest engine?" Says the mechanic, "about sixteen feet."

As UP 4012 is now in Scranton, I guess they got it out ok. Maybe they let the air out of the tires ... ;-)

Too bad Trainorders wasn't around back then. I would've liked to have seen UP 4012 roll through Hoosac Tunnel.

* JB *

Date: 08/29/07 09:06
Re: Remember Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT?
Author: doubleheader

I only got there once, around 1976, and it was just a drive through the countryside with some New England relatives.
However, we did get there in time to see the last train of the day arrive. My brother had connections with one of the crewmembers,
and he happened to be the engineer. I was invited to ride the cab of 1246 from the station to the roundhouse, which was rather nice.
I have since acquired some 16mm footage of various trips on the line, and enjoy watching that material since its all gone now. I really
liked the area, and wish Steamtown would have stayed in this quaint setting. One of the film clips even had a shot of 1293 still in
CPR livery which was cool to see. I have seen that engine many times on the Ohio Central. The Bellows Falls area had a lot of nice charactor!
Greg Scholl

Date: 08/29/07 10:18
Re: Remember Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT?
Author: wabash2800

Yeah Greg but for some reason the locals acted like a bunch of NIMBY's. I suppose they had enough tourist attractions to support them.

Date: 08/29/07 10:36
Re: Remember Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT?
Author: Rdg170

Thanks to my grandfather; I had my first cab ride, on ex-Rahway Valley #15, in August, 1964 from Riverside to Chester and back. Climbed in every cab I could in the yard at N. Walpole, NH. Spent time with the Rdg 2124 which had been sent to Steamtown the year before. We came back the next year to ride a trip from Riverside to Rutland behind GMR, now Strasburg, #89. By the time I was able to get back there again twelve years later many changes had taken place, IMHO some good, some not so good.

Doug Rowland
Philadelphia, PA

Date: 08/29/07 21:20
Re: Remember Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT?
Author: choochoocharlie

My Mother and Father took my wife and kids to Steamtown in 1969. Got photos of the Canadian stemer pulling our roundtrip train to Chester. Have to look at the photos to get the number of the engine. Had a great time there in Bellows Falls with all of the engines that were on display there and the steam train ride. Will try to post some photos when I get the chance to scan some of them.


Date: 08/30/07 08:20
Re: Remember Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT?
Author: BrianJennison

As teens, my brother and I went up there in September 1966 (we had moved to seacoast New Hampshire in 1964). I remember wandering around in the yard at North Walpole, NH, where much of the equipment was stored. I got shots of a number of things, but I particularly recall faded "speed-lettering" on the tender of the B&M 3713, and the NKP 759, which later hauled the Golden Spike Centennial. I also remember a B&M local sneaking through the yard heading towards Keene, behind a maroon SW1. Of course we didn't chase it...

The train rides were out of Riverside, VT by this time, so we went over and did that. Somewhere I have a shot of the steam engine backing up with a rotund brakeman (Don Robinson maybe?) hanging onto the grabs of the tender. I regret we didn't hang around Bellow Falls to watch for one of the little passenger trains that still ran between New York and Montreal (these were dropped at the end of the month that year, IIRC), but at 16 I just wasn't sufficiently "tuned in" to do stuff like that.

Finally, I did return to shoot the steam operations several times, including in their last year... 1983? I too miss them, but believe that the Green Mountain diesel operation is a worthy successor, and I'm told that the current NPS operation in Scranton is pretty impressive (I hope to see that for myself this fall). In any event, God bless Nelson Blount! The man had the perfect combination of passion, foresight and wealth to amass the collection that we all still enjoy today, scattered 'tho some of it may be.

Date: 08/30/07 10:07
Re: Remember Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT?
Author: wabash2800

And you have to marvel at the process of movng much of the static equipment from Bellows Falls to Scranton including a Union Pacific Big Boy.

Date: 08/31/07 11:36
Re: Remember Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT?
Author: pennsy3750

Steamtown had been in Scranton for a year or so by the time I was born, so the never saw the Vermont version. I do recall a story I was told by someone I know who did see it (prr4828, you know who I mean.)

It seems the Steamtown people wanted to move a bunch of equipment from North Walpole across the river to the Vermont side. This is done by way of a diamond crossing over the joint B&M/CV Conn River Line, which is still used today. For whatever reason, the B&M would not allow them to do it. They went ahead and did it anyway, allegedly under cover of darkness to reduce the odds of the B&M finding out. Remember, Steamtown was not a government operation back then. Well, the B&M did find out, after the fact. They were furious and tried to sue for damages - except that they couldn't prove any damages. So instead, the decided they would no longer allow Steamtown to move equipment over their track.

That came to an end when the B&M had a derailment on the Hoosac Tunnel line and needed to detour via the Green Mountain (ex-Rutland), then owned by Nelson Blount as well. After that, the B&M was happy to oblige Steamtown equipment moves.

Date: 08/31/07 12:58
Re: Remember Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, VT?
Author: cforssi

What ever happened to the site of the old Steamtown? Are there still tracks and a yard there? Does any railroad still go there now days? Thank you, Charles

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