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Greenfield man talks about love of trains 

  • Dale Russell talks about his vast collection of pictures of trains, tracks, stations and related memorabilia at the Greenfield Historical Society. STAFF PHOTO BY Abby Kessler



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dale Russell, of Greenfield, pulled a black-and-white photo out of a binder on a recent Thursday, the picture of train tracks in Hillsborough.

The photo was snapped sometime in the 1960s by a man who now lives in Florida. Russell, who collects pictures of railroads, recently bought the photo on eBay. When it arrived, he spotted a figure near the station. It was his father.

“I had no idea when I bought the picture,” he said.

The picture is one of 14,000 or 15,000 that Russell has collected over the years and filed away in binders that he keeps in his home.

Russell, who is a member of the Greenfield Historical Society, is organizing its sixth annual Railroad Show on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The show will be held at the Historical Society Museum, which is located along Main Street. The event will include a Milford/ Bennington railroad engine and caboose. There will also be a railroad flea market, a silent auction, and food and drinks available all day.

Russell said he lives in the same house that he grew up in. He’s moved over the course of his life, but never out of Greenfield. He said he’s always lived within sight of train tracks. He remembers when he was little, three or four years old, his dad took him down to the depot and showed him a steam train that had broken down on the tracks.

When he was a little older, Russell would ride his bike down to the depot and watch them switch the cars around. Sometimes they would ask if Russell wanted to ride along.

“Every once in awhile one of the guys would say, ‘I’m going to Hillsborough with one of the cars, do you want to go?’” he said. “Well they would only have to ask me once. I would jump on the engine to Hillsborough.”

He said he would ride over to Hillsborough on the caboose, get off, and come back.

That was a big deal for him back then, he said.

Some years ago, he isn’t exactly sure when Russell started collecting pictures.

“I think I got a defective gene from my father,” Russell said. “My father was kind of a closet railroad buff.”

Collecting the train memorabilia has become a passion. 

“It has honestly taken on a life of its own,” he said. “I said, ‘Oh, I like that picture and it’s from Greenfield. And I thought there is other towns on the line like Lyndeborough, or Peterborough, or Hancock, and it kind of just grew from there.’”

Now, he travels around to various historical societies in the area, sharing stories about the old rail system in the region. Every once in awhile, he’ll hop on a train himself and travel across huge swaths of America.

“You get to see America’s backyard,” Russell said of train travel.