Category Archives: Progress!

Amazing Simbex Volunteer Crew


This amazing crew of Simbex volunteers showed up at the “pocket park” this morning; they showed up with tools, with skills, with vibrant energy, and a great work ethic.  Their main task was to mix compost and soil and mound it on the extended beds. They did that, and so much more.  They moved and leveled a picnic table (really leveled – a marble found in the park did not roll when perched on the table.) They removed a broken bench. They picked up litter, even going down the riverbank to pull up a roll of chain link fencing. They cut out dead wood, pruned and weeded. They dug out old stumps. We are so grateful for their youthful energy, their generosity,  and all they accomplished. Thanks also to John and Jackson of Leb Recreation and Parks for delivering that soil and compost. What seemed an overwhelming task now looks do-able . . . and really looking good!



Bridge over Mascoma River Progress Report

We set out to check on the progress of that blocked bridge over the Mascoma River.  We can tell you that the middle section is almost finished – the rails are up – but we can’t show you; we were so distracted by the beauty of the river, we forgot to take a photo of the bridge. Next time!


Looking north from the MRG bridge over the Mascoma River –  distractingly beautiful!


Southward view from the MRG bridge over the Mascoma River


And you meet the nicest people along the trail!




Beautiful Birches


Reminders from the Railroad’s Past

Next time we’ll bring a tree identification book – such varied leaves scattered across the trail!

Eastern End of MRG Paved


Intersection of Mascoma, Mechanic and High streets

Wow!  Most of the eastern end of the MRG has a base paving, up to the blocked bridge over the Mascoma River.  (There is a gap at one point where sewer line work will occur – Lebanon Public Works will then pave that section and the whole stretch will get a top coat.) A smooth paved surface will allow for all non-motorized uses including wheelchairs, baby strollers, skateboards, and in-line skating.


Near the underpass by APD looking eastward


Near underpass by APD looking westward

We will report on Friday on the status of that blocked bridge over the Mascoma River.

MRG from APD to Bridge over Mascoma River

Eager to know the progress on the blocked bridge over the Mascoma River, we set off on a westerly walk starting near APD.  Great progress on the installation of safety railings! Much of the trail is set on a rise above the surrounding land and the drop-offs are potentially dangerous.


Looking westward near APD and the underpass.


Others have discovered the trail.




On one side of the trail is Longacres – on the other side is this small pond. We spotted two pileated woodpeckers and a Downy woodpecker as well as three ducks paddling and dabbling in the pond. Red-winged blackbirds flew in and out of the tall reeds.



Pileated Woodpecker – Googling, we find: “PILEATED (Woodpecker) – PIE-lee-ay-tid, PILL-ee-ay-tid (having a pileus or cap). Two alternate versions listed from the dictionary. If it bothers you when people say it differently than you do, lighten up.



Bridge over Mascoma River – imagine being the one to install the railing – those with fear of heights need not apply.

There is planking across the bridge and some of the railing has been installed. The bridge is not yet open, but is definitely progressing.


Biker heading back eastward.


Heading back


Back where we started near APD, enjoying the Autumn light.


Loving that golden glow!

Lots of Safety Railing Progress!

Image-1 (69)

Lots of safety railing has been built in the past few day, not just on the overpass bridge, but all along that area.


Slayton Hill Road Overpass Closure


Scytheville Underpass (AKA Slayton Hill Road Overpass)

The Mascoma River Greenway Construction Project will be installing bicycle and pedestrian railing on the Slayton Hill Overpass, requiring street closure under the overpass on October 11 – 13th. 7am to 5pm daily.

(Historically, this area of Lebanon was known as Scytheville; there was once a scythe factory on Slayton Hill Road. This bridge was known as the Scytheville Underpass.)


Progress on the Western End of the MRG

Today was a beautiful warm fall day – great for exploring the western end of the MRG.  We accessed the trail from the back of the Price Chopper parking lot on the Miracle Mile where a dirt road descends from an opening in the trees. And who should we meet but Paul Coats, Director of Lebanon Recreation and Parks, and, with Frank Gould, main mover on the MRG project.


Paul had come to see if a pile of rails had been trucked away – they had.  Progress!  (Note the new rock fill on the left to prevent erosion.)

We set off westward toward the Terri Dudley Bridge, currently the west end of the trail.

IMG_0415 (1)

The trail is wide and graded looking west.



Loop – straight leads to bridge over Mascoma River and the Terri Dudley Bridge – Right leads down to the river

We took the left fork and headed west.


A remnant from the past: this is an old railroad loading station for whatever business was above it on Mechanic St. There used to be a set of side tracks leading to the structure.


Looking Westward


Bridge over Mascoma River with Terri Dudley Bridge (RT 4) overhead

Instead of crossing the bridge, we looped to the right heading back eastward to follow along the river.



We kept spotting an elusive cormorant paddling and diving here.



Cormorant territory


Eventually, we passed our entry point and kept heading east.


Deer tracks!


Addi, Pidi, and Daisy

We met Addi walking her dogs, Pidi and Daisy.  They are all frequent walkers on the MRG. (An unfortunate encounter with an aggressive driver on a road walk has spooked Pidi into fear of walking on roads.) They have easy access to the trail from home; Addi’s husband cross-country skied the MRG to work in downtown Lebanon about a dozen times last winter!

Fill and grading has helped eliminate some of the wet areas on this part of the trail . . . but eventually, the dry areas became more narrow.  Addi and her pups continued eastward to check the condition of the blocked bridge over the Mascoma River. (The front page photo of today’s Valley News featured work being done on that bridge.)  Addi agreed to taking a photo of the bridge as we rested on a pile of ties.


Addi & pups continue eastward


We chatted with this biker who told us how much safer he feels on the trail as compared to roads.  He was pleased with how his bike was handling here.


Addi returned with this photo of the bridge over the Mascoma River (looking eastward.) Upon completion of this bridge work, the trail will be clear from the pocket park by the tunnel (behind Goss-Logan Insurance) in downtown Leb to the Terri Dudley Bridge.


Heading westward back to starting point.

This part of the trail was impassable just a few weeks ago. There’s work to be done but we’re getting there!


These stone retaining walls had us marveling at the effort involved in creating this railroad line without the equipment available today: the cutting of the stone, the transport, the buttressing of the hillsides . . . beautifully built and made to last.


And here we are back at the dirt road leading up to the parking lot. Shoes a little muddy, but impressed by all that has been accomplished. Glad to know the blocked bridge over the Mascoma is progressing and that soon this part of the trail will be graded and hard-packed .  .  .  and the eastern section is scheduled to be paved this month!

(Thanks to Polly Gould for the walk and many of the photos.)



Progress on the Eastern End of the MRG


Kiosk at intersection of Mascoma, High, and Mechanic streets

Today was hot and humid; we welcomed the shade and dappled light at the entrance to the trail at the junction of Mascoma, Mechanic and High streets.

MRG2Walking to the overpass near APD, the trail was wide and nicely graded.

MRG3Heavy equipment to accomplish the job

MRGvinesA tangle of vines in the trees.

Walnuts on the ground alerted us to a black walnut tree with nuts high above .


We were attracted to the bright red berries of the Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcmara) along the trail.  The berries are toxic.

woodynightshade larger

It is also called Climbing Nightshade, appropriate, given how high the plant had climbed.


Woody Nightshade /Climbing Nightshade


Mile Marker 139

Erected before the Civil War by the new Northern Railroad to mark distances from Concord to White River Jct., the mile markers along the rails were relocated when the line was absorbed by the Boston & Maine in 1887. The posts then ticked off the 143 miles from Mile 0.00 at B – North Station, Boston – to the terminus at WRJ – Mile 142.92 in VT. (Thanks to the Northern Rail Trail site for this information.)

MRGJakesThrough the trees, we could see Jake’s on Mechanic Street, a destination for some of the walkers we encountered on the trail. Proximity to Mechanic Street made us realize that, on weekdays, walkers could walk one way on the trail and then hop an Advance Transit bus for the return trip.

To locate an Advance Transit bus stop:
1. Go to Google Transit by clicking on the link below.
2. Drag the map to display the general area you are interested in, or enter a starting and ending point in the “Directions” box.
3. Zoom in on the map until bus stop symbols appear.
4. Click on a bus stop symbol to see the name of the stop and the names of the bus routes that serve this location.
5. Click on the “Street View” picture to get a look at the stop. You may need to click and drag the picture to bring the bus stop sign into view.
And remember Advance Transit buses can carry bikes.


IMG_0368A number of homes on Mascoma Street have easy access to the trail.


We encountered several walkers and bikers on the trail. Near our destination, the overpass by APD, we met a woman with her dog “Willow”; they are frequent walkers here.  She used to walk the tracks all the way to West Lebanon and is very eager for the bridge over the Mascoma River to be repaired, and for the MRG to be completed.  Aren’t we all?! It is exciting to see we are well on our way.

Looking east toward our starting point, happy with the progress on this lovely trail.


Looking eastward toward the intersection of Mechanic, Mascoma, and High streets

Progress on the MRG

Take a little walk with us to see the progress on the MRG from the Mechanic St./Mascoma St. overpass by Alice Peck Day Hospital (APD), across the bridge over Interstate 89 (in back of Longacre’s) and up to the first bridge that crosses the Mascoma River (east of Timken.)

MRG1This is the MRG as it crosses the overpass by APD (you can see a car on the right heading under the bridge.) Tracks and rails have been removed.  A safety rail will be installed here.

MTG3Heading west, a safety rail is partially installed by a small pond. Rails and tracks are gone and the trail has been widened and graded.

MRG4The approach to the I-89 bridge

MRG5I-89 bridge

mrgbroad.Much of the trail is now broad and graded like this.

IMG_0304This is the bridge over the Mascoma River. It is currently in poor repair and blocked, and therefore, the end of our westward walk. Lots of work needed here! Progress has been made at the far end of this bridge, and we will report on that progress soon.

MRG8Looking east from the blocked Mascoma River bridge notice the post hole digger.  Such a major project!

MRG9Heading back east, we encountered these mountain bikers who have already discovered the enjoyment of the improved trail! (We also saw a number of walkers – commuting to Renihan Meadows?)



Back at our starting point off of Mascoma Street, by the overpass, some of the equipment and materials being used. This little walk has impressed us with the scale of this project and how much has been accomplished.  We will soon bring you up to date on the western end of the trail.