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MBTA - Neponset River Bridge (Franklin Branch MP 17.82)


Photo taken by P. K. Lazrus


View this photo at mhc-macris.net

BH Photo #318997



Steel deck plate girder bridge carrying MBTA Franklin Branch (MBTA Franklin Line) over the Neponset River at milepost 17.82 in Walpole, Massachusetts.

MBTA Historical Property Survey 

Written by P. K. Lazrus

"The portion of the Franklin Line extending from Readville to Franklin was originally conceived of as two, short, branch lines; the Walpole Railroad, linking Walpole with Dedham, and the Norfolk County Railroad that ran from Walpole to Franklin. The Walpole Railroad was chartered but never actually built. It was vigorously contested because the populous wanted a local line independent from the larger rail lines planned to Connect Boston with New York City and the upstate Hudson River region. The Norfolk County Railroad, chartered in July, 1847, was promoted by wealthy Blackstone millowner Welcome Farnum (1796-1874). The line was opened for service from Boston to Blackstone on 16 May 1849. Farnum's plan was to extend the line through to the Hudson River in order to bring coal form Pennsylvania mines into New England. Farnum had the proposed route surveyed as far as the Hudson River at his own expense, and in 1853, the line was extended as far west as Southbridge, Massachusetts. Farnum's failure during the Panic of 1857 spelled the end of his involvement with the railroad, but the line was completed to Fishkill Landing on the Hudson in 1881. The Norfolk County Railroad went through several reorganizations, consolidations, and name changes between 1858 and 1869 when the line became part of the New York and New England Railroad. In 1898 the New York and New England became the last major acquisition to come under direct control of the New York New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

The skewed bridge is composed of four girders with upper lateral bracing, and the abutments are laid up in 15 courses of [ashlar] granite. It was built in 1902. In general, thru and deck plate girder bridges on this line, upgraded or constructed by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad in the early 1900's were designed and construction directed by the engineering department of the NYNH&H. C. M. Ingersoll was the chief engineer and W. H. Moore the engineer of bridges. The bridges were fairly standard deck plate girders utilized whenever conditions would permit."

- Massachusetts Historical Commission (P.K. Lazrus, MBTA Historic Property Survey, 11/1987)


Deck plate girder bridge over Neponset River on MBTA Franklin Branch (MBTA Franklin Line)
Walpole, Norfolk County, Massachusetts
Open to railway traffic
Built 1902
- C. M. Ingersoll
- W. H. Moore
- Commuter Rail
- Conrail (CR)
- Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
- New York & New England Railroad (NYNE)
- New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad (NH)
- Norfolk County Railroad
- Penn Central Railroad (PC)
Steel deck plate girder on ashlar granite abutments
Length of largest span: 47.3 ft.
Total length: 50.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.15756, -71.23782   (decimal degrees)
42°09'27" N, 71°14'16" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
19/315122/4669694 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 66629 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • March 22, 2015: Essay added by Erich Pfistner