Monday, February 13, 2012

It’s Sad About the Trains

Rockingham Junction Station
Newfields/Newmarket, N.H.

On Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012, Gayle Hedrington and I were off on another adventure, but time allowed for a detour from our objective. We both love to photograph anything about the railroad and I remembered this old station I passed many times throughout the years watching as time took its toll on the abandoned building. I even stopped once in 1989 to take photos. I was interested in the railroad, but hadn’t yet developed a real passion for photographing anything besides personal adventures and family. I didn’t even know the name of the station at the time. However, it always saddened me that these beautiful buildings were abandoned and a way of life that was once so important to N.H. communities and economy had died. Hence I had developed the line, “It’s sad about the trains.”

Views of the old building were usually from the Rte. 108 overpass. Before the overpass was built, Rte. 108 crossed the junction. The 2003 road map I have calls the section of Rte. 108 between the Stratham Traffic Circle and Newmarket, College Rd. I have never heard it called that. The old section of road no longer crosses the tracks and on this current visit, I accessed it from the south side.

I was concerned that the building might no longer be standing. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was it still standing, it was being renovated. It looked so different from what I’d remembered. I kept looking around to see if it was the right place. I am pleased that the place is being restored, but they are doing it in blue and not the original yellow. For some reason, that is disappointing, but it’s wonderful that someone is taking the care to fix it up. We took a few photos.

Normally I would never go onto property marked with No Trespassing signs, but my fascination with the railroad and history takes over. I hope I am forgiven. I would never do anything or cause any harm. I totally respect property. All I want is photos and to share the story of adventure in discovering the history of the wonderful places around us.

A Little Bit of History:
Rockingham Junction, built in the 1890s, was once a bustling area. The north and south line was used by the Boston and Maine Railroad between Boston, Mass. and Portland, Me. An east west line, started as the Portsmouth Concord Railroad, connected Portsmouth to Manchester. Rte. 108, though I’m sure it wasn’t called that then, also passed through this intersection. The area also boasted stores, restaurant, and freight depot.

The station closed in 1979, the restaurant burned and stores went away. In 2007, the freight depot was demolished. The line from the junction to Manchester was purchased by the D.O.T. in 1988, the rails torn up and the section is now part of the Rockingham Recreational Trail program. The B & M was bought out by Guildford Railroad and the name later changed to Pan Am Railways. The north south tracks are shared with Amtrak’s Downeaster passenger service between Boston and Portland and there is still some freight service to Portsmouth.

To see photos, visit FaceBook, A Touch of Light.

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