FWRT Annual Meeting and Open House

West River Railroad

A train departs the South Londonderry depot during the hey-day of the West River Railroad.

Friends of the West River Trail: Doings at the Depot!

The public is invited to attend an Open House and social hour, with refreshments provided, hosted by the Friends of the West River Trail (FWRT), to be held on Wednesday, March 23, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM, in the South Londonderry Depot on Route 100.

At the Open House, visitors will be updated on the current projects involving both the West River Trail (South Londonderry to Brattleboro when completed) and the Depot itself. Representatives of both the Northern (Londonderry to Townshend) and Southern (Newfane to Brattleboro) trail sections will be on hand.

A highlight of the evening will be an update on the status of the West River Railroad Museum, being developed by the Historical Society of Windham County in their recently-acquired Old Newfane Railroad Station.

Plans for the 2016 West River Trail Run will be presented by a representative from the Collaborative. The 2016 event will take place on National Trails Day, June 4

The Open House will be preceded at 5:30 PM by a short business meeting of the FWRT Board, to which visitors are welcome to attend if they choose.

Please plan to join your friends and the Friends of the West River Trail for an enjoyable and informative evening.

South Londonderry Depot, 34 West River Street, South Londonderry, VT 05155

West River Trail Update & Annual Meeting Report

West River Trail Update & Annual Meeting Report

WRT at MarinaThe West River Trail is open. Please be aware that there are intersections between construction access and the trail path, and users should exercise extreme caution at these intersections. As an additional safety precaution, users of the West River Trail are reminded to keep pets on a leash in this area. Trail users should be aware that snow removal operations on I-91 may cause snow to fall on the trail.

The next Trail Talk will be held on February 21. Check the I-91 bridge construction website for details.

Friends of the West River Trail (FWRT) in the news. Story published in The Commons issue #292 (Wednesday, February 11, 2015), page B2. Written by Sarah Buckingham.

LONDONDERRY—Work is about to begin to restore the former Newfane depot for use as a railroad museum. The Friends of The West River Trail (FWRT) learned more about this project, and others, when the group held its annual meeting at the former South Londonderry depot last month.

Laura Wallingford-Bacon, president of the Windham County Historical Society in Newfane, said her organization purchased the 1880 building for $42,000 from the children of Fannie and Bill Mantel last fall. It had been in the Mantel family for around 50 years. The railroad went out of business in the 1930s. The purchase price includes historical artifacts in the station. The historical society plans to restore the building and incorporate a collection of artifacts from the West River Railroad that currently resides at the county history museum. South Londonderry and Newfane are the only two of the 10 original depots from the West River Railroad that still sit at their original sites. Other surviving depots that were later relocated can be found in West Dummerston and Williamsville. Wallingford-Bacon said the historical society hopes to raise funds to offset the purchase price and to restore the property and they have received an “encouraging response” to that campaign. The restoration will take place in six phases, with an estimated total cost of around $50,000. The first, and most urgent, phase — addressing drainage and replacing the roof — is expected to cost $16,000.

At the annual meeting, FWRT board members Lester Humphreys and Paul Cameron gave a presentation on the Riverstone Preserve, a 23-acre parcel which the group acquired in 2013. The land sits one mile north of the Marina restaurant in Brattleboro, between the West River Trail and the river itself. The southern section subcommittee purchased the land for $97,000. One-third of the purchase price was raised in donations and the rest came from a grant from the Vermont Housing Conservation Board. The Vermont Land Trust holds a conservation easement on the property.
Cameron gave an overview of the plant communities in the Riverstone Preserve, which include a sugar maple ostrich fern flood plain community; a river shore grassland that is home to several rare plants such as the great lobelia; and a river cobbleshore, where the FWRT are working to control invasive Japanese knotweed, the worst of several invasive plant species in the preserve. Cameron also reported that last spring a volunteer group formed to develop a management plan for the preserve. So far the group has completed a drainage project, built a trail connector with a board walk, removed an old shed, and continues to work removing invasive species. More volunteers are needed for projects happening this summer. FWRT would like to build stone steps, picnic table, a pavilion or shelter of some type, and an information kiosk.

The FWRT board of directors elected Greg Meulemans as board president and treasurer. Humphreys was voted in as vice president of the board and assistant treasurer for the trail’s lower section subcommittee, and Sharon Crossman the assistant treasurer of upper section.

Meulemans reported that FWRT has received a grant for mile markers which will be modeled after railroad markers and be installed along the trail this summer.


Report of the Friends of the West River Trail Annual Meeting

Report of the Friends of the West River Trail Annual Meeting

The Friends of the West River Trail Annual Meeting on February 12 at the Depot was a treat!
Having never been to the renovated South Londonderry Depot, I was curious to see it. I also wanted to meet more of our fellow Friends of the West River Trail from further north. Lester, Alex, Jason and I, from the Lower Section, traveled together. Upon arrival, we found a cozily lit open room with new, exposed post and beam construction. There was a display of Railroad memorabilia, a FWRT display, a table full of delectable looking h’or-doeuvres, and friendly faces. After a little socializing, a brief informal meeting was called to order by Fred Haartman, the president. Sherry Crossman reported on interesting updates from the upper section, the lower section gang added our news, and a quick election of officers ensued. At 6 PM, more people arrived for nibbling and schmoozing. At the tolling of the old train bell, our attention was directed to hear about the beautiful old RR bell and meet William Peele, who along with his wife Agnes, generously donated the bell to the FWRT Depot for safe keeping. We then took seats and watched the 7 ½ minute video of the West River Trail, presented by its creator, Tim Lawrence. This upbeat, fun journey on the trail with Tim and his Siberian Husky, shows viewers where to park at the various trail accesses and what type of conditions to expect. This video can be found on our FWRT Facebook page and You Tube. We will get it on the website ASAP!
The Annual Meeting event was fun, informative, and affirming for all. FWRT and friends are a good group of folks with a great mission and an ever improving product—the Trail! We hope to get the upper section folks down here this spring for a picnic and hike on the lower section.
NEWS from the Upper Section: a long planned pedestrian bridge over the river near the Winhall Campground will SOON be a reality! It will be built across the old RR bridge abutments within the next year or so!
Submitted by Kathleen White, Lower section steering committee