PORTSMOUTH — Even after lying deep beneath the surface of the Piscataqua River for nearly 80 years, the rusted and decaying axles of a long lost iron horse, still give off a smell of industrial oil.
On the evening of Sept. 10, 1939, Boston and Maine passenger train No. 2024 left North Berwick en route to Boston with only 12 passengers and a crew of five. The train would never arrive.
According to author William Brooke writing in Volume 18 edition 1 of the “B & M Bulletin,” the train was crossing over a 100-year-old wooden trestle known as the “Portsmouth Bridge” and was 40 feet above the river. Brooke said barges used for the ongoing construction of the original Sarah Mildred Long Bridge were anchored to the bridge, which had already been weakened following a collision with a freighter in 1937.