The Pioneer Valley Railroad consists of former New Haven Railroad trackage that was once the northern extension of the canal line from New Haven north. This was one of the NH's few incursions north of the Boston & Albany main which was the defacto Mason-Dixon Line of New England Railroading separating B&M territory from NYNH&H.
Most of the PVRR's business moves via CSXT but they do have an outlet to Pan Am in Holyoke. However due to a bridge out of service this interchange hadn't been used in at least a half dozen or more years. Thanks to a nearly $500K grant from MassDOTs 2017 Industrial Rail Access program the bridge was repaired and the interchange was reactivated in January 2019.
A highlight of the trackage to and from the interchange in the old B&M yard is a long stretch of street running beside the Third Level Canal down the middle of Water Street. This is one of the only stretches of street running left in New England and easily the longest.
Holyoke is a fascinating post industrial city of massive mills and canals and the photo angles should you be lucky enough to catch a train are infinite.
Indulge me as I share one fascinating tidbit of history. Anyone who has been to Boston or really anywhere in New England quickly realizes that their is no rational patern to how roads were laid out and there is nary a straight line to be found between two points. Getting anywhere in the area takes far longer than it should and it confounds people from the orderly laid out towns of the American midwest. But Holyoke is different in that it was among the first planned industrial cities in the United States; built in tandem with the Holyoke Dam to utilize the water power of Hadley Falls, it is among the only cities in New England built around a gridded road plan.
During the late 19th century the city produced an estimated 80% of the writing paper used in the United States consequently Holyoke was once a major profit center for both the New Haven and Boston & Maine railroads.
Anyway, after making a drop of two empty gons and pickimg up of three loaded centerbeams the PVRR is back southbound on the street with PVRR 7030 (an ex CN GP9RM) in the lead and 2647 (an ex Santa Fe CF7 rebuild) trailing.
Big brick mills and gritty post industrial glory, the canal, the stone arches of the Cabot Street Bridge...it all just works for me and screams of New England's glorious past.