Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, NVP and Jane Poole update

Post date: Jun 17, 2018 10:21:45 PM

For some of us long time members of the NVP, the Groundbreaking for Phase 2A of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail has a special significance in addition to the opportunities provided by having another place to ride that's free of motorized vehicles. Back in the 1980s one of our most popular and enthusiastic members was a retired schoolteacher called Jane Poole. At various times, she was a board member, ride leader, club President, organizer of the Century and a great ambassador for the club that recruited many members.

In her retirement she often rode over 5000 miles a year. Many of them were on club business; she would use her bicycle to deliver copies of Pedalings to all members in Acton where she lived. The Pedaler used to be called Pedalings in those days, of course it was all on paper then and mostly delivered by USPS.

Before retirement Jane taught first grade in the Westford. I bet that some club members remember her from their earliest days, even if they do not remember her from the club. I first met her in 1987 at NEAR (New England Area Rally). This was the year that the event was at UNH in Durham

Jane was one of our most energetic ride leaders. The wallpaper on the hallway to Jane’s kitchen was a set of USGS maps of our area and she would use them to show her routes to you. My wife Betsy Taylor-Kennedy lived in an apartment in Bolton in the late 1980s and she remembers how Jane explained the best way for Betsy to commute to work in Acton by running her fingers along the lines on this wall.

Jane rode a red Georgena Terry with straight handlebars. The bike had the trademark Terry small front wheel and was built when Georgena’s bikes were still handmade in upstate New York. It must have been one of the first Terrys to be sold in Massachusetts and definitely one of the first Terrys I had ever seen. When Jane was not using her bike for transport she did not use a gas-guzzler. She drove a small Geo.

All of this brings me to the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail because Jane was also an early supporter of efforts to convert what was then called “the Sudbury to Lowell Railway line” to non-motorized transport. This was at a time when there were still occasional freight trains making deliveries to the lumber yards on Route 27 in Acton. Jane led a number of hikes along the railway bed in about 8 mile increments. Of course, she did this at times when there were no trains! I can remember one hike in particular that took us by what has been one of the most contentious sections of the planned trail; the section adjacent to White's Pond in Concord.

Jane died of a heart attack while leading her annual Patriots’ Day ride in April 1990. She was about 70 years old. She knew that she was weak and was waiting for heart surgery at the time. I wasn’t on that ride, but it's possible that some of our current members were there. Jane had been a general inspiration to us all.

A large contingent from the NVP attended her memorial service in Chelmsford. Afterwards the club raised money and paid for a memorial to her in the form a stone bench and small garden in the Acton Arboretum, but a condition of installation of the seat was that when the railway bed was converted through Acton it would be moved to a suitable place next to the trail. Some of the money was raised at the Jane Poole Metric Century in the spring following Jane’s death. The start point was near her home in Nagog Woods and her daughters were there to see us off.

I am pleased to tell you that the Town of Acton has committed to move it in to place when Phase 2A is completed.

Gordon Taylor