Providence, Warren & Bristol Background


Still On the Mainline






When we started our layout, we decided to name it for the Providence, Warren & Bristol, a railroad that ran almost literally through our backyard.

Even though we will be moving from Bristol to Barrington, Rhode Island, our family will still be living along the old PW&B mainline.








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This glorious photograph shows the Bristol terminus of the PW&B around 1950.
The tracks ran right along the water’s edge at the bottom left of the picture.
The end of the line was in front of the first large mill shown at the upper right.
If you look in front of the factory, near the water, you can see a string of cars queued up for the
return trip to Providence.  Our Bristol house was just behind the two large trees at the
beginning of the curved track, at the lower left of the picture.
The Mount Hope Bridge can be seen in the distance at the top center of the photograph.








The 15-mile Providence-to-Bristol branch was part of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. The New Haven, of course, was later absorbed into the Penn Central.  In its last years, the PW&B’s freight operations became part of the Providence & Worcester.









The photo on the left shows the tiny depot at Poppasquash Point in Bristol.

Although this small station was long gone by the time the aerial photo above was taken, it would have been located at the end of the long street running perpendicular to the PW&B’s tracks.








The PW&B’s profitable heyday lasted from the mid-1800’s all the way through 1920.  With the the advent of the automobile, however, the PW&B’s days were numbered.  The Warren to Fall River (Massachusetts) branch was abandoned in 1937.  The Bristol train station was decommissioned in 1939 and all service to Bristol ended in 1973.








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This earlier photograph shows the Bristol Train Station...the last stop on the line.








The PW&B was finally abandoned in 1981.  The PW&B’s original trackbed is now used as the “East Bay Bike Path”.









The PW&B’s West Barrington depot is shown on the left.  Other stops in Barrington included a station in the town center and another small depot in the Hampden Meadows area.








The combination of unique equipment, electrification, proximity to the water, and variety of urban and rural landscapes make the PW&B an interesting railroad to model.









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Before it was electrified, the PW&B played host to the unusual 2-4-6T Mason Bogies.
These locomotives were built in nearby Taunton, Massachusetts.









The PW&B was so short in real life that modeling various scenes using “selective compression” hardly seems necessary!








The vintage postcard shown at the right illustrates “The Sharpest Rail Road Curve in the World at Fox Point, Providence R.I.”

This prototypical feature will come in handy when we try to justify the O27 curves on our layout!





This “Sharpest Curve” led straight into another interesting feature of the PW&B: a two-track tunnel that allowed trains to pass underneath College Hill on the east side of Providence.






The tunnel was constructed in 1908 and was nearly one mile long.  The tracks pass directly beneath the Brown University campus.





Although the tracks remain, the tunnel was sealed on both ends with large steel doors some time during the 1990’s.




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In the satellite image above, the yellow line shows the tunnel’s approximate path under Providence’s
East Side.  At the lower right-hand corner of the photo, remnants of the “Sharpest Rail Road Curve
in the World” can be seen leading up to the tunnel’s entrance.




We will be “between layouts” during our move.  However, we will keep our hand in the game by researching and gathering material to document the PW&B on this website.  The first of these is a scan of an article from the March, 1943 issue of Trains magazine.

Please check back often and keep an eye on our progress!








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