The Old Railroad Bed


In the early 40’s I walked the ”Old Railroad Bed” trying to span the ruts and valley’s of the removed ties.  I even tried to ride my bike over them… to no avail.

The valley’s are long gone!

At a young age, I was allowed to walk the bed down to “the crossing”, a cart path that ran from Station St. to David Seager’s well house ( now Pinehurst Drive).  There were Towhee’s scratching  in the leaves, an Ovenbird singing deeper in the woods. I saw the only one Redstart in my life, and my first Scarlet Tanager.


Later  in the afternoon I remember scaring-up Woodcocks feeding along the edges of the banking.


A resident Box Turtle  and I crossed paths many times. I would  always check  it out to see if it had the initials “BB” carved in its bottom shell. I could never confirm who ” BB” was.

I left the vicious Snappers alone,  and the fast  little Painted ones alluded me.

When I got older, I was allowed to travel farther away from home.
After the crossing,  there was a large cornfield.  I remember scaring up  hundreds of Mourning Doves many times.

Meadow Larks were a common sight in these same fields.
They often sat on the fence posts or as seen here on the barbed wire.


Sometimes, stuffed in my pocket, I had a hook and line wrapped up in brown paper. I’d search for a worm or bug to attach, hoping to catch young trout in the stream running though a culvert under the old bed. We locals called it Pocahontas creek. The trout were too small to bring home, but this was my entertainment.

One day I was sitting  on the banking waiting for a bite and a four-foot Black Racer snake slithered by, not five feet away!  In the years I plied that old bed, I encountered Garter snakes, Milk snakes, a Puff Adder, some Grass snakes, a number of ribbon snakes….all of which I chased down and caught just for fun. I knew these were non-poisonous and most didn’t try to bite.

Returning home late in the afternoon, I looked up and watched  the hundred or more crows returning to roost in the great pines on Seager’s Hill.

Quite often, a bevy of Bob White Quail would scamper through the brush rattling  the leaves. I knew when early evening came, the Bobwhites would call, whistling ‘bob-bob-white’, over and over.
I wonder if there are any Bobwhites left?


As I continued my stroll home, a Cottontail rabbit was sitting motionless until I was two feet from it. The little guy leaped into the air, flipped to one side and scampered out of sight!  It’s unusual departure made me laugh.

Just after dusk a Red Fox would bark, it was more like a ‘ba-a-a-rh’ ! I could imitate the bark well. I used to think we were talking to each other.


Just after dusk, one of my favorite bird calls would be heard, a  Whip-poor-Will would tune in with its song.
‘whip-poor-will’, ‘whip-poor-will’, over and over.

Look up the folklore of the Whippoorwill, aka goat sucker.

At my bedtime the Tree Frogs would peep , peep & peep -me-to-sleep.


“Nature is mans teacher, she unfolds her treasure to his search, unseals his eyes, illumes his mind, and purifies his heart;  An influence breathes from all sights and sounds of her existence.”
                                   Alfred Billings Street.

So-called “progress”, has utterly destroyed  this amazing wildlife stage that Mother Nature provided for me.  The clearing of land, the housing developments , the paved roads…. all this has done away with these creatures’ homes. Not one of these creatures could prevent this kind of destruction to their beloved village and they just moved away in silence.
Today, there is only one creature left to help save what’s left of this habitat…… that’s Man:  people, neighbors, abuters, and the power company!
This old Railroad bed has all of the requirements to remain a nature path , not a wide groomed roadway made easy for man to walk without getting his Nike Dunk Low’s or Yeezy’s dirty.
Have you ever noticed these creatures that walk paths through the woods  never look dirty?
 Even more wildlife, that I have not mentioned, once roamed this old bed.  Pay attention  people, when the creatures are gone, we will follow.
I challenge anyone to find the same observations  today, exploring that old Railroad bed!

Coincidentally, I just ran across this information published in a local newspaper.

“People need to pay attention to the birds around them because they are slowly disappearing,” said study lead author Kenneth Rosenberg, a Cornell University conservation scientist. “One of the scary things about the results is that it is happening right under our eyes. We might not even notice it until it’s too late.” Material from The Associated Press.
And more of Ken’s findings:
“Grassland birds have declined by 53% since 1970- A loss of 700 million adults in the 31 species studied, including Meadowlarks and Northern Bobwhites.”


W. Ray Freden
Seaview/ Marshfield 70 years.

5 Replies to “The Old Railroad Bed”

  1. Mr. Freden,
    Your past two blog posts have been serendipitous. We have lived on Pinehurst Rd for 20 years. Both my children have spent countless hours on “the cart path”, or what you describe as the old railroad bed, specifically exploring that little stream that runs under the path where you saw the black racer so many years ago. As an aside, my kids used to climb a tree in your parents’ yard on Station Street when they were little- there was an old milk can they could use to get themselves up to the first limb. The tree was on the left of the driveway.

    My son, Pibb Wright, is a senior at Marshfield High School. He just became an Eagle Scout in September as a member of Troop 101. He is continuing onward with Scouting by now working towards an environmental project that will hopefully culminate in something called the Hornaday Award. William Hornaday was known as the “father of Conservation”. Pibb has explored that little stream that feeds into Little’s Creek and then into Little’s Pond for years. He has seen native brook trout in that stream and is currently trying to work with North and South River Watershed Association to do a fish count. Your oral history has been vital and timely to his project!! You referenced Marshfield Rod and Gun stocking the pond with trout, as well as in your last post catching trout below the spillway of the pond. Were you referring to Sea Run trout in that post?

    Pibb would love to talk to you offline about your personal recollections of this area. His goal is to do stream repair and hopefully bring back native fish to these stream and ponds. Did you ever see herring in Little’s Creek? This young generation is trying to do exactly what you mention in this post- preserve nature and our lands.

    Let us know if we can speak to you further. Until then, thank you for your beautiful writing.
    Kathleen Wright

  2. Ray I had a noteworthy experience with crows where the power lines intersect the rr bed. Hustling home from Damon’s point to meet a 5:00 pm curfew and no rides I decided on the shorter route the rr track. Running and walking as night approached the sounds of many crows made me pause and listen. I slowed my pace as I reached the high tees. The wires both on the rr and high tees where covered in crows. Being young and impetuous I wanted to make them fly. The sky darkened after a few claps. More crows than ever seen since. This was 1971. I no longer have a curfew but frequently enjoy the rr track. Latest siting was a brown water snake by the S.R. Bridge. Saw small trout in the Pocahontas last fall.
    Richard Dubois

  3. This is a beautiful reminder of all that we have been blessed to have around us and to have our children growing up with. Thank you Ray for reminding us.


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