History

The club known as the Waushakum Live Steamers got its start in 1955 at the home of Henry Stone at 72 Pond St. in Ashland, Mass. The original track was about 800 ft. in length and in the shape of a dog bone. The A frames used to support the track were made of old bed frames, which were held down with large screws on 2 x 4′s resting on the ground. The rails were made of 3/8″ square steel and held in place with welded clips, drilled and screwed to the ties.

The club had 12 founding members, and by the end of 1955, there were 18 regular members. The track in Ashland, Mass. was completed on May 20, 1956 with a Golden Spike ceremony. Mr. Charles Chabot served as the first club president. The club remained at Ashland until November 17, 1968.

The Norfolk St track. Ian Fisher Collection

The Norfolk St track.
Ian Fisher Collection

The second home of the Waushakum Live Steamers was in Holliston, Mass. at the home of E. D. Child at 370 Norfolk St. Work on the new track began on October 26, 1968 with bull dozing work by Jimmy Bishop.The first run day was held when the loop was completed on November 16, 1969. The Golden Spike was placed on July 25, 1970, and the first Annual Meet at this site was held on August 28 and 29, 1971.

Waushakum remained at the Norfolk St. location for another 26 years (1969 – 1996). From 1969 to the mid 70s, the Norfolk St. track was expanded with a second engine terminal, switching tower, yard track and signal system. The 1996 Annual Meet, held on August 23, 24 and 25, marked the end of another chapter in WLS history. During this meet, the golden spike that had marked the completion of the track in 1970 was removed. Just several days later, on September 1, eight members of the club began the demolition process of the Norfolk St. track.

September 23, 1995 was the first official work day at the new club site off of Arthur St. in Holliston, Mass. On that day, a path was cleared from the unfinished part of Arthur St. to the field which would eventually become the new club parking lot. On August 14, 1997, Diamond M Construction finished the first phase of the driveway, from Arthur St. to the club parking lot. On August 11, 1997, the club placed the first upright for the new high-line. By August 14, 140 ft. of track has been completed. On December 20, the final 10 feet of track was laid and the new high line loop was completed at noon when the last screw was driven by 6 members.

The current Waushakum track.
Photo by John Kelly

The first run on the new track was held on January 1, 1998. Mike Boucher made the first trip with his 3/4″ scale 4-6-2 locomotive, B&M #3714. The first Annual Meet at the new track was held the weekend of August 28, 29 & 30, 1998. During the meet, thirty engines were run on the high line and about four or five on the ground line, which was about 600 ft. in length at that time. Since then, the club has continued to grow. The ground line is now 3,599 ft and the high line is currently 2,264 ft. Membership has risen to over 200. Those who have gone before us gave us a vision, and it is now up to us to carry that vision into the future.

Information provided by Pat Fahey, expanded by Fr. Jay Finelli.