THE PAWTUCKET-CENTRAL FALLS STATION
WOODLAWN TOWER TO BOSTON SWITCH
An Account Of The Railroad Line From Woodlawn Tower In Pawtucket, Rhode Island
To Boston Switch In Central Falls, Rhode Island
A History Of The Stations In Pawtucket And Central Falls And The Line Relocation Of 1913-15
New Haven ALCO PA-1 0763 heads a New York express through Boston Switch in early 1961, shortly after the
Pawtucket-Central Falls station was closed in 1960.
PHOTO BY EDWARD J. OZOG
On Sunday, January 16, 1916, the New Haven Railroad opened a magnificent station over its four-track Boston - New York City mainline and across the border between Pawtucket and Central Falls. The massive station was designed to have equally impressive entrances in each city. The new station replaced two small stations a half mile apart. It was the culmination of a three-year project to eliminate grade crossings, remove the tracks running at grade level through downtown Pawtucket and relieve the railroad's traffic bottleneck at Pawtucket by extending the four-track mainline to Boston Switch where routes to Boston and Worcester diverged.
THE PAWTUCKET-CENTRAL FALLS STATION AS SEEN FROM BARTON STREET
The entrance on the left is in Central Falls. The entrance on the right is in Pawtucket.
THE WAITING ROOM OF THE PAWTUCKET-CENTRAL FALLS STATION
Given the condition of the area today, a person may wonder how the New Haven justified the expense of such a large station. Today It is hard to visualize the prosperity of the vicinity when the station was new. Mills and commerce provided a good level of income to residents and the appearance of both cities reflected the relative affluence of its middle-class. Moreover, the combined population of the two cities exceeded or rivaled major New England cities such as Hartford, Springfield, Bridgeport and New London.
A New Haven ALCO PA-1 and an ALCO DL-109 roll under the Pawtucket-Central Falls station
and the Clay Street bridge with a New York to Boston train. Spots of snow still show in this 1956 view.
Photo By Edward J. Ozog
The photograph shows the station a few years before its doors were locked in 1960. The fortunes of both the railroad and the two cities had deteriorated and the station was too expensive to maintain or convert to another use. Regrettably, one of the grandest buildings in the area soon became a ruin and has stood derelict for over fifty years as a sad example of economic decline and misfortune.
A TICKET FOR PASSAGE BETWEEN PAWTUCKET AND CENTRAL FALLS
The ticket is a reminder that once there were separate stations in each city. This ticket was sold in Pawtucket on May 15, 1900.
THE TWO STATIONS WERE HALF A MILE APART
BELOW IS A CURRENT MAP WHICH SHOWS THE SUBJECT RAIL LINES
The Providence & Worcester (green line) and Boston & Providence (purple line) join at BOSTON SWITCH and continue to Providence as a joint ownership line (blue). The red line is the realignment of 1913-1915 which extends to Woodlawn Tower at the south end. The yellow line on the left is the Moshassuck Valley Railroad and the yellow-green line on the right is the Providence & Worcester line from Valley Falls to the Wilkesbarre Pier. The Pawtucket-Central Falls station is at the north end of the red line.
This website is an expanded version of an article titled "The Pawtucket Central Falls Stations" which I wrote for the New Haven Railroad Historical and Technical Association's quarterly publication SHORELINER, Vol.15, Issue 4, 1984, pp.6-17. The text has been abbreviated but the illustrations have grown to well over a hundred.
I was raised in Central Falls but left for New York and New Jersey after I graduated from college in 1961 and mainly for that reason this story ends around that time although there is some more recent information and a few photos I shot on visits into the 1970's and 80's. With one exception, all the diesel era photographs were taken by me while all other illustrations are from my collection.
CONTENTS AND NAVIGATION
Scroll from page to page or use the site map which lists pages in alphabetical order when "list" is clicked (list is the symbol box with the horizontal lines). The pages in subject order order are:
Home - Introduction
Page 1 - The Separate Stations
Page 2 - The Line Relocation
Page 3 - The New Station
Page 4 - Woodlawn Tower
Page 5 - The Freight House
Page 6 - Central Street Footbridge
Page 7 - Boston Switch
Page 8 - Tin Bridge
Page 9 - Ruins
Page 10 - Memorabilia
BACKGROUND - This site is part of a history series describing the railroad between Providence and Boston Switch. Please also view the following:
Rhode Island Railroads - http://sites.google.com/site/rhodeislandrailroads
The Providence Stations - http://sites.google.com/site/rrstationsofprovidence
Roundhouses in Providence - http://sites.google.com/site/roundhousesinprovidenceri
Northup Avenue Hump Yard - http://sites.google.com/site/humpyardprovidence
Moshassuck Valley RR - http://sites.google.com/site/moshassuckvalleyrailroad
NH Steam Locomotives - http://sites.google.com/site/nynhhsteam
SITE CONSTRUCTED BY
EDWARD J. OZOG