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Oral History Project


A key mission of FBDP is to preserve the local railway's history for the benefit of current and future generations. One way we accomplish this is by recording the oral histories of those people who experienced it firsthand.

Over the years, we've had the privilege to interview former B&M Railroad employees and local residents about their memories of the Lexington and Reformatory Branches. These interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed for publication in our newsletter. Now, you may listen to excerpts from these recordings on our web site.

More exhibits will be posted once we edit the tapes and encode the QuickTime media files.

M E D I A   E X H I B I T S
engineer Alan E. MacMillan, Jr.

Alan E. MacMillan worked for many years in MBTA Commuter Rail service as an engineer. He started his railroad career in 1970 with the Boston & Maine. In June 1975 while a student engineer, Alan rode the Bedford train for two weeks with engineer John Kempton and conductor Edward Schuler. Of special interest is how Alan piloted the January 1977 "rescue mission" to retrieve the final Lexington Branch passenger train, a Budd Car and switcher that were stuck in the snow at Bedford Depot.

Click here for a page of audio clips from our May 14, 2002, chat with engineer MacMillan.

brakeman Ralph E. Fisher

Ralph E. Fisher occasionally worked as a brakeman on the "BB Local," the branch's local freight train, between 1946 and '52. His memories paint a vivid portrait of New England railroading the way it used to be.

Click here for a page of audio clips from our December 1, 1999, conversation with brakeman Fisher.
Click here for a page of video clips from a June 30, 2004, interview.

If you haven't read the January 2000 newsletter article about Mr. Fisher and "The Train to Oblivion," click here to read it online.

conductor Edward F. Schuler

Upcoming: Lexington Branch conductor Edward F. Schuler

Charles Dee

Charles Dee was born in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1923. His memories of the Reformatory Branch extend from childhood, when the line still crossed the Sudbury River, to a derailment of the BB Local freight train at the "Filter Beds" in the early 1940s. He shared with us several rare photographs.

Click here to listen to excerpts from our November 17, 1999, conversation.

Joseph Damery

Upcoming: Joseph Damery recalled the atmosphere around Bedford Depot during the 1940s.

Emerson C. Fox

Upcoming: B&M employee C. Emerson Fox told us how crews readied the first train of the morning at Bedford Yard.

conductor Robert M. Howe

The Lexington Branch was among the assignments that trainman/conductor Robert Howe covered during his 40 years on the Boston & Maine. We had a chance to chat with Bob about his memories.

Click here for a page of video clips from our June 8, 2005, conversation with Mr. Howe.

Thomas McHugh oral history

Thomas "Trigger" McHugh witnessed a lot of changes during his 40 years as a Boston & Maine freight conductor. Click here to view video clips from our July 12, 2005, conversation with Tom.

Paul Harling

Paul Harling became quite familiar with the Lexington Branch while growing up near Arlington Heights Station in the 1930s and '40s. He has the distinction of riding in the cab of a steam locomotive during one of the last official steam train trips on the Branch. We chatted with Paul at his Gloucester, Massachusetts, divemaster office on March 7, 2007.

John F. Brown

Bedford native John F. Brown grew up near Shady Hill Station on the B&M's Reformatory Branch in the 1920s. His family operated the adjacent Shady Hill Nursery Company (today called New England Nurseries). In this July 2006 recording, he reflects upon the passenger trains and trolleys that once served the town.