Palmer Aims to Expand on Rich Rail History

Palmer is known to many as the Town of Seven Railroads, a nod to a very rich history as a transit center.

Indeed, several passenger and freight rail lines ran though the community at one time, most notably the Boston & Albany, which ran east-west between the two cities, and the Central Vermont, which ran north-south from the Canadian border to New London, Conn., with those two railroads sharing Union Station, an elegant structure designed by noted architect Henry Hobson Richardson.

Today, rail is still part of the town’s character, with five rail lines still running through the community, a renovated Union Station now serving as home to the popular Steaming Tender restaurant, and a new brewery — called, appropriately enough, Seven Railroads Brewing — opening its doors on Route 20 just a few weeks ago.

Passenger rail service in Palmer ceased back in the 1970s, when Amtrak closed Palmer’s station, leaving few who can recall first-hand that important aspect of the town’s history — and psyche.

But all that could be changing in the not-too-distant future.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has recommended Palmer as a stop on the proposed east-west passenger rail service, and is now in the process of studying and eventually selecting a site for a new rail station.

There is no timetable for when that service will start, but the DOT’s backing of Palmer as a stop is generating high levels of excitement and anticipation in the community, said Town Planner Heidi Mannarino, noting that she is already seeing more interest in the town and some of its available real estate from the development community. Overall, she and others are enthusiastic about what a rail stop will mean for the existing business community and ongoing efforts to grow it.

Read complete article at