Salem's Subway

Looking south - Old station in background
This week's Sepia Saturday prompt looks like a very busy square. Perhaps there is now or was a farmers market located around there. Perhaps a  train station nearby? Car's are coming and going and there is a sign pointing to a tunnel and what looks like toll booths to that tunnel.

Salem has a tunnel of it's own. At one time the Eastern Railroad Company's main line from Boston to Portland, Maine ran right down Washington Street at grade! Can you imagine the confusion and bewilderment those bellowing steam engines caused when they careened through town. They scared not only the human population but remember, they had horses pulling their wagons and buggies back then.

Looking south
Well someone came up with the bright idea of sinking the rail line under Washington Street at Bridge Street and returning to the surface just before the train station which was then located in front of today's post office. The station was one of those that the train actually drove right through. As you can see from the photos it was massive and fortress like.

Sometime in the 1950's someone decided that all the trains through the city at this short stretch was causing to much traffic congestion. It was decided to tear down the old station and lengthen the tunnel another quarter mile or so thereby eliminating all the grade crossings in the city. The "new" station would be located in an uncovered cavernous area just after the trains left the new portion of the tunnel.

This new station turned out to be a wind tunnel of sorts and was a miserable place to stand for a train on a cold winter day. Well you guessed it,  in the 1970's someone decided to relocated the station to the north entrance to the tunnel where it is today. I can attest that this new location is just as blustery on a cold winter day as it sits right on the banks of the North River. If you take the train to Boston you can still see the old/new station area now abandoned.

Looking north before the tunnel extension
The new station is currently going through an upgrade which will include a four level parking garage, high level loading platforms and a heated waiting area. Salem's station finally has made it to the 20th century! (just a few years late)

Today if you stand on the site of the old train station you can feel the trains rumbling below in the tunnel. Both the tunnel and it's extension did help with traffic for a few years, but if you drive downtown any given day and  find yourself in a traffic jam, well that's all part of life here in Salem!


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