Land: In 1847 and 1848, the BC&M RR bought six tracts of land in Ashland for its main line, including land owned by Obadiah Smith and also by George Hoyt, who also lived in Whipple House, and in 1849, bought more land, three parcels where the rail line crossed what is now Depot Street, on both sides of street, for its depot and associated structures.
Track Main Line Construction: The BC&M RR let out contracts for the section from Foggs Hill in New Hampton to Plymouth in October and November of 1848. The railroad was built largely by hand without modern earth moving equipment, by lots of men with picks and shovels and horse drawn dump carts. There was probably some use of work trains to move earth and materials. The ties were laid by men. Rails were set and spiked down by men with sledge hammers. The work was very labor intensive.
Single Main Line Track: There have been periodic upgrades of the track. The original iron rails were replaced by steel, at least twice. The wooden ties were replaced as they rotted or wore out. Most of the track in Ashland is in its original location save for the relocation for I-93 in 1963, when the line was moved westerly to avoid the new road and the interchange. About nine tenths of a mile of track was built. The line actually gained a few hundred feet.
Sidings: Sidings were needed so southbound and north bound trains could pass each other and for unloading cars, particularly freight. There were two sidings here near the station along the main track. The outer siding, as shown on the c.1893map of the railyard, was 1450 feet long. It ran from near the Squam River railroad bridge to a long distance south of this station. I think that this is the siding that is described in an 1881 news item as being extended to accommodate 25 cars and two engines. It was presumably used for passing trains. At some point in mid to late 20th century, the outer siding was entirely removed. But as part of 2007 improvements at this crossing, part of it was rebuilt as the dead end spur on which the caboose now sits. There was talk at that time to further extend it to again have a passing siding here. The inner siding that served the freight station was about 480 feet long. It left the main line north of this building, crossed the road, and ran in front of freight station and north along the tracks for quite a ways. The 2007 work on improving the safety of road crossing saw the removal of part of the inner siding, so that it no longer crosses the road, but it is still mostly there.
Spurs: The spur on the east side of freight station off the inner siding was apparently built around 1891-2, as an October 31, 1891 news item reported that the Hughes & Brown storehouse was being moved 20 to 30 feet to make room for a new side track on east side of the freight depot. It is shown on the circa 1893 map, with scales next to it. It still appears on a 1935 aerial photo. I am not sure when it was removed.
Two spurs to what is now the Town Garage property were used for privately owned warehouses. They are not shown on the 1883 birds eye view of the village. References are made to one of them in 1891 newspaper items. The two spurs are shown in the 1892 state atlas and the circa 1893 map. They left the main line on this [south] side of Route 132 and crossed that road. These spurs served storage sheds of various sorts. Both spur tracks are now gone. At one time five tracks crossed the road here- the main line, two sidings and two spurs. Since the 2007 work, there is just one crossing left, the main line.
Spurs to paper mill. News items in the winter of 1877-78 describe the construction of a new side track to serve Wilder & Co.'s paper mill. In 1881, news items record that Wilder & Co. bought an old mill, where Mill No. 3 is now, and replaced it with a new mill and that the paper mill also extended the rail line along the north side of the mill pond to that new mill. The rail line is shown going all the way to Mill No. 3 on the 1883 birdseye view. The1892 atlas show two side spurs, one along the southwest side of the main mill complex on the south side of the main spur, and one to a storehouse on the north side of the line to Mill No. 3. By 1912, Sanborn fire insurance maps show another spur off the southern spur into a coal shed on the rear side of the main mill. So the final plan of the paper mill tracks was a single line off the main line that split into two spurs that each split again for a total of four spurs to various parts of the mill complex.
Siding near Pemigewasset Bridge: This long siding starts just north of the dirt road leading to the town wells, and continues north to just south of the Pemi railroad bridge. It borders the Rochester Shoe Tree and Alex Ray properties. The siding is still mostly there, but is largely overgrown with trees and shrubs. I am not clear on the age of this siding. In 1880, the BC&M RR bought a large parcel of land here from the heirs of John Lyon in this area and across the river in Bridgewater. This seems to be where the railroad had a tie shed where old ties that had been replaced were cut up and then used to fire the locomotives in the days of wood burning locomotives. Such an operation could have needed a siding.
In September 1957, the Lakes Region Chipping plant, a wood chipping operation that supplied wood chips to paper mills, was opened here. According to news item at the time, the Boston & Maine RR had built a ten car siding to serve the new business. Later, after the chipping plant burned, Richard O'Brian bought the same property for his lumber sales business. A newspaper report on the railroad in 1981 stated that Richard O'Brien “has spent $14,000 to lay down 600 feet of siding” for his business. The Rochester Shoe Tree Company was also using the railroad at that time  to receive 50 freight cars of cedar annually. So I am a little confused about when this siding was built. Perhaps, sidings were built there more than once.
Part 3: This presentation of The Railroad in Ashland was delivered by David Ruell to the Ashland Historical Society on September 12, 2019 in the Ashland Railroad Station Museum.