Train service arrived in the small Massachusetts town of Bedford, Mass., on August 4, 1873 when Middlesex Central extended it service one town further from Lexington Center. Four stations served the town, including this one: the Bedford Depot.
“The country’s first two-foot-gauge, common-carrier railway opened between Bedford Depot and North Billerica in 1877,” according to the information plaque. “The Billerica & Bedford railroad was considered an engineering marvel and attracted worldwide attention. The narrow gauge’s Engine House later became the Boston & Maine freight house that still stands today.”
Some 18 passenger trains operated between Bedford and Boston during the height of service during the 1920s. Passenger service to Bedford ended in 1977, and the Minuteman Bikeway was built atop the path in 1992.
The railroad car on display was built by the Budd Company in 1955 and operated passenger service through Boston and Maine for 25 years. The Rail Diesel Car seats 71 people, and the baggage room area is now used for historical exhibits. Few diesel cars still exist today.
“The Budd RDC is noteworthy for its all stainless steel construction, self-propulsion and bidirectional operation,” reads an information plaque at the site. “Two Detroit Deisel engines beneath the car powered the vehicle at speeds of up to 85 miles per hour.”
Using Community Preservation funds, RDC 6211 was cosmetically renovated by the town, the Department of Public Works and volunteers.
In recent years, it has been host to an annual Polar Express event, where local children board the train, hear the story and drink hot chocolate.
For more information, visit the website at www.bedforddepot.org.