“Getting outside in the fresh air and walking can be the best medicine. The West River Trail,
right in Brattleboro’s backyard, will help to keep residents healthy.”
—Steve Gordon, President & CEO, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital
Over 130 years ago, a railroad wound its way on narrow-gauge track between the steep slopes of Black Mountain and the salmon-rich waters of the West River on a 36-mile route between Brattleboro and Londonderry. Following the demise of the railroad in 1936, the tracks and ties were removed, and the railway itself became little more than a memory in some areas or a footpath in others. With the 2011 acquisition of the southern-most segment of rail bed by Friends of the West River Trail, we invite you to share our long-held dream of restoring the railway route to its full potential as a Brattleboro-area recreational and educational resource.
Ever since the last engine steamed down the track three-quarters of a century ago, sections of the former railway have been used informally by the public for hiking, cycling, skiing, and enjoyment of the surrounding natural areas. Friends of the West River Trail, a non-profit association founded in 1992, has restored and developed an 18-mile Upper Section of the Trail from Londonderry to Townshend expressly for those purposes.
Restoring the lower section of the West River Trail
A long-held hope of the Friends has been to restore the Lower Section as well. That opportunity is now at hand! Through the efforts of a Brattleboro-based sub-committee, the association has acquired nearly six miles of the former railroad property, stretching from Brattleboro (just beyond the Marina Restaurant) into Dummerston. Initial trail improvements are underway thanks to volunteer efforts, but additional financial support is required to implement much-needed restoration work and to serve as seed money for matching grants to fund future improvements to this section of the trail. The West River, together with its shores, marshes, adjoining woods, meadows, and trails, is Brattleboro’s Central Park — and the West River Trail is its Emerald Necklace. The restored Lower Section will provide access to a rich landscape that includes not only opportunities for multiple recreational activities, but also for the appreciation and study of flora and fauna, geology, history, and archaeology. The trail will have appropriate drainage, surfacing, and bridges to enable access by all visitors. There will be parking, signage and visitor facilities to welcome school groups as well as recreational users and even bicycle commuters who are seeking solitude, beauty, and safety on their morning ride into Brattleboro. And the Lower West River Trail eventually will link to a network of regional trails including the Upper West River Trail, the Retreat Trails, the Wantastiquet Mountain Trails, and the Ashuelot Rail Trail.