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Bones of the Branch

The Slate Cut

By Dave Rutan

For my birthday, my wife and I took my daughter, Elizabeth out to explore the slate cut below Newton. We hadn't been there in about ten years and I wanted to try and get some better pictures than I have.

We parked at the Yates Avenue crossing and put Elizabeth in her umbrella stroller. She resisted, for that matter, she wound up pushing the stroller herself for most of the way. I don't mind going slow, as it gives me a chance to creep along the sides of the ROW to look for 'bones.'

On this stretch, none of the telegraph poles have survived. There should be a mile marker and a whistle post along here also, but alas, they too are missing.

North of Cut

A few bikers and dog walkers passed us as we approached

the cut. Even though the sun was coming from the opposite end of the cut, I was able to get this picture looking south (towards Andover.)

Elizabeth and my wife decided to climb up on top of the cut, so I ventured on to the other end where I looked into the remains of a small slate quarry. It's located to the left as you face the cut looking towards Newton (north.) There is a path/dirt road along the left side of the quarry leading west. I did not follow it as I know it's private property.

Concrete Monument

Just south of the cut, I noticed a concrete 'monument' poking up from the leaves. These are surveyors markers placed along the property line of the railroads for measurement purposes. If you've ever seen a surveyor's map, you will have noticed little arrows pointing to 'pipes' and 'pins.' Monuments are more formal markers, which usually have either a nail in the top or a round button.

South of Cut

When the family caught up to me, I wanted to go back by way of the the ridge, Elizabeth at first wanted to accompany me, but then decided Mommy was a better companion. While this was going on, one of the strangest sites I've seen came through the cut. A team of six dogs pulling a sled on wheels rattled through. Talk about oddball motive power!

After Elizabeth was taken back down to the trail, I continued onward along the top of the cut. Ten years ago, when we were last here, we found a telegraph pole here, but it has since either fallen or been taken down. The stumps I found were moss covered.

Rail Monument

At the north end on this ridge, I found a 'rail monument.' This is a length of rail inserted into the ground much like a concrete monument for surveyor's measurements. My little girl was kind enough to pose for the picture with my walking stick.


'Bonerail' background from my friend, James Sorochinski

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