Today, steam whistles and the sounds of trains are no longer heard among the mountains and valleys in most of Cheshire County, New Hampshire, though in the Connecticut Valley to the west and to the south in north-central Massachusetts, steel rails are still very much alive. Iron Roads of the Monadnock Region brings to life the story of now largely forgotten railroads that once operated in the region, shining new light on the roads’ stories from their beginnings to the present. Authors Blodget and Richards detail how and why the roads were built in the first place, where they went and what they did, their roles in the economy of the Monadnock Region, and what became of them. Seven years in the making, the authors have produced a compendium of little-known history of the roads, tracing the high and low points in the roads’ lives, their first and last trains, glory days, times of struggles, disasters, and wrecks. It’s all here, an essential reference–enriched by over 700 images, maps, and tables—for the serious railfan interested in the history of railroads in the Monadnock Region.
Bradford G. Blodget
Growing up in Worcester, Mass. in the 1950s, author Brad Blodget could often be found on his bicycle, trackside along the Boston and Maine Railroad watching trains. After graduating from the Worcester Public Schools, he received his BA, with a major in biology at Clark University and later earned an MS in wildlife biology at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst in 1978. He moved on to a career with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, most of it as State Ornithologist, before retiring in 2002. Soon after that, released from his professional career, a long-suppressed passion for railroad history exploded. He acquired the train symbol nickname “WX-1” for his frequent research trips between Worcester, Keene, and Bellows Falls, Vt. Brad, is an active member of the Boston & Maine Railroad Historical Society and the Railroad Locomotive and Historical Society and resides in Holden, Mass. His first book, Marium Foster’s Boston & Maine Railroad, appeared in 2011.
Richard R. Richards
Growing up in Greenfield Massachusetts in the 1960’s, co-author Richard “Dick” Richards grew up in a railroad family. His father was a freight and passenger Conductor for the Boston & Maine Railroad. He developed his love of trains early on. He could often be found at the Greenfield railroad station watching trains or while on school vacations riding the rails with his father. After attending public schools and graduating from Greenfield High School Dick enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He served as a Security Policeman at bases in Southeast Asia, the Continental U.S., and the Republic of Korea. Upon leaving the service he followed in his father’s footsteps for a brief time as a Trainman and Conductor for the Boston & Maine Railroad. He moved to Keene New Hampshire and embarked on a 30 year career with the Keene Police Department. During that time he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Franklin Pierce College, retiring from the department at the rank of Lieutenant. Upon retirement he rekindled his interests in railroads and most specifically the historical aspects of the industry. He was able to pursue these interests through his volunteer efforts at the Historical Society of Cheshire County. This is also where he met and began working with co-author Brad Blodget. Dick is a member of the Boston & Maine Railroad Historical Society, the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Dick is married to his wife of 36 years, Louise Moody Richards, and resides in Swanzey New Hampshire. They have a grown daughter, Kathryn E. Richards, who is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.