36 Miles of Trouble

36 Miles of Trouble_72
36 Miles of Trouble


This painting, 36 Miles of  Trouble, includes an ancient railroad trestle abutment that sits in the West River. 36 Miles of Trouble was the nickname for the old West River Railroad. This railroad was incorporated in 1850 and ran up the West River Valley for 80 years. The line was built at the height of railroad fever in America.

Ten years after it was built the civil war was over and the western frontier was opened for settlement. This caused the depopulation of Vermont. In 1850 the population of Windham county was 29,062 and by 1930 it was 26,015. The hill farms disappeared and the forest returned. It was not a recipe for growth.

The railroad was always underfunded and accident prone, hence it’s nickname. Derailment, rock slides, trestle collapses, and days stuck in blizzards between stations doomed it to failure. By the 1930s it was no more. All that is left are railroad beds and trestle abutments.

Silent stone sentinel, some-time span,

sitting splitting stream, some 600 seasons,

seven score summers, seven score snows,

slowly surrendering, senescent slide,

someday soon, slipping seaward…

 #2130601, 36 Miles of Trouble
16″x 20″, oil on canvas

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