In 1881, a branch line of about 3-miles was completed between the village of Bethlehem and Pierce Bridge (Bethlehem Junction). There were two stations along this short branch. One was in downtown Bethlehem, and the other station was on the outskirts of town at Maplewood, which is the station shown in the above photo. Passenger rail service to Bethlehem was discontinued in 1924. But during its heyday, as many as eight to ten trains came into Bethlehem daily.
On August 12, 1900 about 12 30 pm The worst freight wreck which ever happened on the White Mountain division of the Boston & Maine railroad occurred just above The Weirs Two men were killed almost instantly and four more of the trainmen were seriously injured, while two locomotives were demolished -and twenty or thirty freight cars and their merchandise piled up into a confused heap on the track.
The accident was said to be caused by conflicting orders issued to the crews. The north-bound train was the regular express freight and the down train was an extra with orders to pass the regular at Lakeport.
The trains came together, with terrific force, On one side of the track was a high batik of rocks, while on the lake side was another steep bank dropping down to the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee. Both locomotives were demolished by the impact, and the care attached to each were piled up in a hopeless tangle, so blocking and tearing up the roadbed that until late Saturday night the line could not be reopened to traffic.
The scene pf the accident was visited by thousands of people on Saturday. The huge locomotives were telescoped together, while the freight cars and their contents were piled ground the spot in almost hopeless confusion. Some of the cars were reduced to kindling wood, and the ground was covered with their contents, including lumber, pulp wood, canned goods, barrels of beer, dressed beef, chickens and vegetables.
Wrecking trains were upon the scene early in the morning, but-the track was not cleared for traffic until late Saturday night, as the narrow cut around the curve where the accident took place made the process of removing wreckage a slow job. The train service was interrupted during the day, but passengers were carried around the wreck in teams and a few trains run in both directions. it to estimated that the financial lose of the accident was aggregate $75,000.
So great was the force of the collision that the locomotives were simply welded together, and then the forward cars, impelled by the momentum, jumped onto and over them in a wild game of leap frog, stripping them of all their top works and transforming them in a twinkling from powerful -machines into heaps of junk. When it was all over a car loaded with potatoes was resting on the back of the north-bound engine, and in cleaning up the wreck both were pulled away together.
Sources of information:
Farewell Old Mount Washington by Edward H. Blackstone
Three Centuries on Winnipesaukee by Paul H. Blaisdell
The Boats and Ports of Lake Winnipesaukee by Bruce D. Heald
And various websites historical in nature
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