Although the railroad played a large role in the development of Easton as an industrial community, the trains are long gone.
But remnants of their existence remain. With a couple of interruptions, it is possible today to walk the train's route from the
Stoughton line, through North Easton, Easton Center, all the way into the Hockomock Swamp, ending up behind the old dog
track in Raynham.
I've been walking the railroad tracks. Last week, on a beautiful fall day, I walked from the Stoughton line, west of Roche Bros
Supermarket and approximately parallel to Washington Street, to the Historical Society and Museum on Mechanic Street.
Between Stoughton and Elm Street are two wooden bridges, one more damaged than the other, that cross Whitman's Brook.
Damaged bridge over Whitman's Brook
View off the path
Occasionally, trails lead off the path beside the tracks, leading to hidden vistas worth checking out. The above view was down a
path on the right, off the line, heading south. After crossing Elm Street and reaching the Historical Society I continued up Sullivan
Ave., toward Main, and passed another bridge that carries the tracks above street level. Walking on, I slipped through a tear in
the fence and hazarded a treacherous descent down to the tracks and the wall of dirt and vegetation packed under Main Street
where a bridge once crossed.
Chet Raymo, Easton resident, noted author, and professor emeritus at Stonehill College, wrote in his book, The Path, published in
2003, about his regular walk from his home on Main Street in North Easton, through Sheep Pasture, to his job at Stonehill, that
"Measured from end to end, the path described......is hardly more than a mile, but the territory it traverses is as big as the universe."
The railroad tracks run less than seven miles through the Town of Easton but there is an entire universe here. Like Raymo, I try to
observe every detail of my route. Three days later, I continued walking. Between Main Street and Bridge Street the path is difficult
but from Bridge to Depot it is clear.
Bridge Street has an interesting history. The Village of North Easton map (1895) shows Bridge Street was originally
an (upside down) U. If you drive up Bridge Street from Center today, turn left to stay on Bridge Street, and at the bottom of the hill
turn left again you run into rocks blocking what used to be part of Bridge Street, crossing the railroad tracks to Center Street. When
I first began driving in the 1970's, a car could cross here to Center Street. Today there is a sign where the road meets Center, for
'Center Street Rear'.
In the photo on the top, from the map View of North Easton, Mass, 1881, is the part of Bridge Street (never a bridge) crossing
from Williams Street to Center, heading west. On the bottom, the map Village of North Easton, 1895, showing the U-shaped
Continuing on, it is easy to access the tracks from the outdoor chapel behind the Covenant Congregational Church on Center Street.
There, on the far side of the tracks, is a wet area sometimes called 'The Muck'. In the past, young people fished and skated, and in
at least a few cases, even swam there! Some of its 'muckiness' comes from the fact that it absorbed run-off from the old Easton dump
that sat at the bottom of Baldwin Street and operated until 1972. I also passed an old, rusted automobile shortly before arriving at
Old car near Depot Street
The Easton Center train station, which no longer exists, was located on Depot Street near Fernandes Lumber and Home Center.
Today, a building (possibly the ticket office) that was once part of the station complex is located a short distance away from its
original location, behind the Evangelical Congregational Church at 351 Depot Street.
Easton Center Depot
I plan to complete my walk of the train line as it travels through Easton. (Once the bears are in hibernation.) In North Easton, tracks
remain, but by 1968 all of the tracks south of Easton Center were removed, and there is only a dirt path. I will pay attention as I go.
In addition to history, architecture, and industry, we appreciate our town's natural beauty and green spaces. Some are well-known
and well-visited: Borderland, Wheaton Farm, Sheep Pasture, but some are still somewhat hidden and a joy to stumble upon. In
The Path, Chet Raymo writes that most of us will find our purpose "on the local scale, along paths that begin at our own front door."
Anne Wooster Drury
The frogs in the pond are a
Memory now, gone wherever
Frogs go when the wind scrapes
Dry leaves along the pavement
Anne Wooster Drury