Since the railroad's network was concentrated within only a few states it offered limited long-distance passenger services to accompanying its expansive commuter operations. Its most known trains included the Ambassador (Boston - Montreal), Alouette (Boston - Montreal), Green Mountain Flyer (Boston to Montreal via Canadian National and Rutland), the seasonal East Wind (Washington - Bangor), and the lightweight streamliner Flying Yankee, operated in conjunction with the Maine Central, a nearly identical sister to the famous Burlington's Zephyr 9900. As you can see, many of these services were operated in tandem with other carriers. Aside from the East Wind, the Gull covered the greatest territory; a passenger taking this train its entire length boarded at Boston and de-trained at Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was handled by the B&M, Maine Central, Canadian National, and Canadian Pacific surviving until 1960. After the depression it rebounded during the hectic World War II period but then again declined after this time.
Notable Boston & Maine Predecessors
Boston & Lowell: The B&L was chartered on June 5, 1830, opening for service between its namesake cities (26 miles) in 1835. From the very start the road handled a wide variety of freight and also enjoyed a healthy passenger business. It eventually opened service to Keene, New Hampshire via Milford and Nashua while branches reached Salem, Concord, and Ayer Junction. The railroad spent many years battling rival Boston & Maine before succumbing when the latter leased it on April 1, 1887. It went to form part of the B&M's Southern Division and always remained a relatively busy corridor throughout the years. Today, much of its original trackage is operated as part of Pan Am Railways.
Concord & Montreal: The C&M began as the Boston, Concord & Montreal incorporated in 1844. Its first segment opened between Concord and Tilton, New Hampshire on May 22, 1848 and continued snaking northward until reaching Plymouth on June 21, 1850 (via Laconia and Meredith). Finally, on May 10, 1853 rails reached Wells River, Vermont on May 10, 1853. The Boston & Maine first acquired control of the BC&M in 1887 but soon spun-off the railroad which went on to form the Concord & Montreal on July 24, 1889. The C&M was a consolidation of the BC&M and Concord Railroad remaining independent for only a few additional years before it was again leased by the B&M on April 1, 1895. The addition of this system provided the railroad with a majority stake in New Hampshire's railroads providing service to all of its major cities such as Bellows Falls, Wells River, Concord, Nashua, and Manchester.
Fitchburg Railroad: The most important component of the B&M was the Fitchburg Railroad, leased on July 1, 1900. It provided access across Massachusetts to important interchange points in New York at Albany and Rotterdam Junction. The Fitchburg was incorporated on March 3, 1842, opening between Boston and Fitchburg on March 5, 1845. It was a substantial operation prior to the B&M takeover connecting Bellows Falls and Worcester in addition to eastern New York. Its most important infrastructure project was the completion of the 4.75-mile Hoosac Tunnel in western Massachusetts which finally tackled the formidable Green Mountains. After the B&M takeover the property became known as its Fitchburg Division. Mike Schafer notes in his book that the route still handled more than a dozen scheduled freights daily after World War II and today remains a vital component of Pan Am.
Northern Railroad: A later subsidiary of the B&L, acquired in 1884, it operated from Concord to White River Junction, Vermont. It was first chartered in 1844 by the New Hampshire state legislature to "construct a line running from Concord to some point along the Connecticut River." Construction of the Northern proceeded quickly; on December 28, 1846 the line was open to Franklin and by November 17, 1847 reached Lebanon. After a few months of additional work the bridge across the Connecticut River was completed and the route finished to White River Junction. In total, the Northern Railroad stretched nearly 70 miles. The company’s sole branch was also acquired at this time when it leased, and eventually took control, of the small Franklin & Bristol in 1849. This little system ran from a connection at Franklin to Bristol, New Hampshire. According to Bruce Heald’s book, "A History Of The Boston & Maine Railroad," on July 24, 1889 the New Hampshire General Court gave Boston & Maine permission to formally lease the Northern. The route prospered until the postwar period; the last passenger train ran on January 3, 1965. It survived intact until the Guilford era when 59 miles was abandoned between Boscawen and Lebanon in 1991.
Worcester, Nashua & Portland: The WN&P was an 1883 formation through the merger of the Worcester & Nashua (formed in 1845 it opened between Worcester and Nashua by late 1848) and Nashua & Rochester (created in 1847 to connect its namesake cities). The N&R was leased by the W&N in 1874, and the two, along with the Portland & Rochester, merged to form the Worcester, Nashua & Rochester in 1883. This new system provided for through service between Worcester and Portland. In 1886, the B&M acquired control of the WN&R and renamed it as the Worcester, Nashua & Portland Division (WN&P Division) with a total length of 146.9 miles. The B&M now controlled three routes between Portland and Massachusetts, which carried enough business until World War I to maintain all three. At this time the first reductions took place. After the Great Depression hit the WN&P was looked upon as redundant. The first abandonments took place in 1932 when sections in New Hampshire were let go. By the 1950s, only two large sections remained; west of Portland and between Worcester and Hollis. By the 1980s most of the the old WN&P was gone.
The postwar period proved especially problematic for the B&M. Its traffic base continued to erode as manufacturing, and business in general, either closed its doors or switched to trucks. The region's short-haul freight business meant that area railroads were especially susceptible to highways. The B&M's issues were magnified by poor management under Patrick McGinnis during this time, who also headed the New Haven. He was a poor railroader and both companies suffered as a result. The B&M took on a stance of deferred maintenance and its infrastructure fell apart during the 1960s; coupled with declining traffic the railroad entered receivership on February 1, 1970. Miraculously, it was able to avoid inclusion into the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail), which began operations on April 1, 1976. Under the direction of new president Alan G. Dustin the railroad was rescued from the brink through aggressive management, marketing, and sound railroading. By the early 1980s the B&M had erased its deficits, an incredible feat considering the state of the industry in this region at the time. Now a successful operation it caught the eye of those with money.