It had the makings of a great railroad, but in the end, the Miskatonic RR proved to be just another tangle of mismanaged New England branch lines, absorbed into the corpulent mass of the Boston & Maine company in 1907, forgotten or little remarked upon, even by Arkham's greatest chronicler, H.P. Lovecraft. Here is its story:

Lucius Beebe, the renowned author of coffee-table railroad books, was inordinately fond of the 19th century, when men were really... um... well, from Lucius' point of view, when robber barons were really robber barons and the filthy rich were really stinky about flaunting their wealth. This is reflected in his passion for repeatedly writing about the railroad moguls and their extravagant lifestyles. It is entirely possible that Beebe, a native of eastern Massachusetts, was directly inspired by his own shirttail relations. None of the Massachusetts railroad barons were better at either robbing or stinking than his nine-times-removed distant cousins, the Beebes of Arkham.

Lucius Beebe
Pecunius Beebe
Fallacius Beebe
The locomotive Dagon, at the end of its long life. It was kept as a relic at the Pabodie Museum by the Arkham chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society until a WWII scrap metal drive. Click on the picture for a larger version.
Renamed the Miskatonic Rail Road, the profitable little short line was soon extended to Dunsany and the new industrial towns in the upper Miskatonic Valley. Fallacius continued searching for a rail-friendly route further west, intending to push the line into upstate New York. Unfortunately, in 1854, he and the entire survey party were devoured by wendigos somewhere in western Massachusetts near Dunwich, leaving the survey incomplete. The railroad would not see a genius of his like again.

The next generation of Beebes, led by Pecunius’ son Sartorius, ran the railroad through the prosperous years leading up to the Civil War, spending the profits on mansions, clothes, and strange hobbies. Important branch lines were acquired, including direct access to Boston via the Boston & Arkham RR and north to New Hampshire over the rails of the Arkham & Newburyport RR.

Sartorius’ siblings and cousins were important to Arkham’s growth as a major Massachusetts cultural center. Brother Fugacius was a founder and presiding minister in the Church of the Starry Wisdom, and believed himself to be the modern incarnation of the Egyptian hawk-god Horus. Fugacius convinced many Arkhamites of his veracity until, in 1857, his head-first dive from the church’s steeple convinced them otherwise.

Business never better in Massachusetts than during the first half of the 1800s. The industrial revolution brought prosperity to factory towns like Arkham, which, because of its connection to Kingsport, was beginning to be something of a world entrepot. Arkham goods were shipped from Kingsport worldwide... and things more sinister tended to get shipped back in return.

In 1837, rich Arkham merchant Pecunius Beebe faced the problem that he was not getting rich fast enough. Draymen were charging Beebe extortionate prices to wagon-haul his goods from the docks at Kingsport to his establishments in Arkham and vice-versa. Beebe took his cue from the railroad mania that was then sweeping Boston financial circles. He greased local political palms and was soon building tracks of his own— the Arkham & Kingsport Rail Way, 3.3 miles from the Kingsport docks to the crossroads at the Arkham riverfront.

Pecunius’ brother, Fallacius, was the local mechanical and engineering genius at the time. He surveyed and graded the railroad to Arkham, and then continued his survey many miles up the Miskatonic valley, to Dunsany and beyond, accurately foreseeing the growth of Pecunius’ railroad empire.

Sartorius Beebe
Fugacius Beebe
Invidius Beebe
Splenius Beebe
Brother Invidius was one of the founders of the Miskatonic University and headed up the Department of Phrenology. He maintained a famous collection of 625 malformed skulls. How he acquired them makes for an interesting story. He died of encephalitis in Arkham Sanitarium in 1866. Brother Splenius thought he had found the right angle on breeding hounds. His Tindalos Kennels were not a success and were the site of his tragic demise in 1869.
Cousin Temerarius Beebe was a union officer in the Civil War, credited with saving Delaware from Confederate invasion by winning the 1862 Battle of Froderick’s Tavern. The Rebels had stopped in for a pint and to ask directions, having lost their map to Milford. Col. Beebe of the 17th Massachusetts Horse Artillery turned his battery on the Rebel-held position and soon destroyed the entire invasion force (all 12 of them), plus Froderick’s Tavern, Mr. Froderick, and half the town for good measure. Temerarius was breveted Brigadier General and reassigned to the coastal defense of Utah.

A reputation for odd happenings gradually attached itself to the little railroad. Riders reported a dreamlike lethargy that came over them in the closed-up little passenger cars, so that they found it hard to remember what the date— even the year— was. To the end of the railroad's days, passengers would arrive with stories of glimpsing costumes and buildings— indeed, life as a whole— from past eras, seen through the dirty car windows. Modern analysis suggests the problem was carbon monoxide... or maybe the soporific odor of the squid oil used in the lamps. The knowledgeable at the time blamed it on the poverty of the northeast Massachusetts countryside.

The Miskatonic also had physical problems. Train schedules were only loosely kept. Maintenance was sporatic. Accidents seemed to happen with frequency. The stories were mostly hushed up since the Beebes owned the town's only newspaper, the Arkham Gazette. (Now called the Advertiser —ed.)

Temerarius Beebe
Locomotive #31, the famous Ithaqua, a Rogers engine from 1875. A favorite for passenger trains.
Locomotive #22, the Caliban, was built by Grant in 1873. One of the railroad's first coal-burners.
The third generation of Beebes, Sartorius’ sons, steered the Miskatonic RR through its golden age in the 1870s and 1880s. The eldest son, Mendacius, took over the line’s presidency and hobnobbed with various Vanderbilts and Goulds, briefly bringing the line into association with the New York Central & Hudson River system. The railroad was extended into western Massachusetts, to the mouth of the famed Hoosac Tunnel, with rail connections to upstate New York and the Midwest just beyond.  A new line was built to the port of Innsmouth. Another new line— the Maryshead Cutoff— was expected to shorten the Boston commute to 45 minutes. Business was booming in Arkham. Hourly trains to and from Boston were planned. Mendacius' stylish private car, the Sarnath, was often seen parked at fashionable seaside resorts in the summer months.
Mendacius Beebe
Meretricius Beebe
Pernicius Beebe
Second son Pernicius controlled the Arkham banks and worked to develop the railroad’s property holdings in that city, successfully convincing the town fathers to bring the city hall, post office, and the rest of “downtown” north of the Miskatonic River. Many of the buildings surrounding Arkham’s castle-like train station were built in the 70s and 80s as part of Pernicius’ development schemes, which included trolley and horsecar lines.
Meretricius, the youngest son, was chief engineer and took a deep interest in the railroad’s physical plant, upgrading track and buying expensive new cars and locomotives to haul the anticipated traffic bonanza passing east through the Hoosac Tunnel. He loved the brightly-colored and elaborately-decorated locomotives of his youth and disdained the change to more "modern" all-black paint schemes. He died tragically in the Aylesbury Bridge Disaster, leaving the Miskatonic RR with a legacy of overly-decorated equipment that his brothers and descendants had no interest in changing.
Locomotive #20, the A.G. Pym, a Baldwin product of 1872. Meretricius Beebe ordered large 4-4-0s like this from a variety of builders.
Locomotive #33, the Prospero, a Porter light freight engine of 1876.
Strange things continued to happen on the Miskatonic RR. Odd, heavily cloaked figures, faces shielded by large hats, their voices not much more than croaks, could frequently be encountered in the rear cars of the evening Innsmouth train. Muffled screams were sometimes heard in the closed compartments of the haunted Arkham-Albany sleeping car. When examined, nothing would be found within but splattered blood. Train service in those years swung between ostentatious and wretched, depending on the financial whims of the Beebe family.
Locomotive #42, the ill-fated Hinkley, an 1877 product from the builder of the same name, pulling train #9 through Dunwich. The "express" trains were often not much more than a smoker, a few coaches, and a chair car. A sleeper was attached for the overnight runs to and from Albany.
The switcher Osiris, #21, spotting the haunted Arkham-Albany sleeping car at Arkham station.
The strangest occurance on the railroad happened on the night of June 9, 1885, when train #9, the Albany-Arkham express, was last seen passing the telegraph station at Weir and failed to arrive at Arkham station. After a few hours, a crew was sent out to look for it. Then, teams of track-walkers scoured the six-mile stretch looking for clues. Any clues at all. The local bogs and ponds were dragged. Barns and decrepid farmhouses were searched. Not much about the mystery was allowed to hit the newspapers. When it did, the most common expression used was "into thin air." A section hand explained that it was like the train was on a table and it... "Jes' fell orf. Mebbe inter anotha dimension. Anotha reality."

Not many Arkhamites complained of missing relatives. The fares that day had been mostly drummers, sales touts, poster-hangers, Republican Mugwump political operatives, patent medicine hawkers, and itinerant bible-salesmen. The rootless are seldom missed. Missing engine #42, the Hinkley, was kept on the roster until the end of the railroad, and train #9 was posted as "LATE" on the board at Arkham station as late as 1902. For years afterward, on nights with no moon, old-timers would cock an ear at a far-off distant shriek and claim to recognise the Hinkley's distinctive whistle.

Usurius Beebe
Salacius Beebe
Of the later Arkham Beebes, the less said the better. Sartorius’ plans to incorporate the Miskatonic RR into the New York Central empire collapsed when the NYC gained control of the parallel Boston & Albany in the early 1900s. Dreams of a traffic bonanza coming through the Hoosac Tunnel died when the Boston & Maine absorbed the Fitchburg RR— a line that ran from the tunnel mouth directly to Boston. The Miskatonic RR, built on the path of Fallacius Beebe’s unfinished survey 65 years earlier, had a longer and slower route with severe grades. The railroad fell into decline. Mendacius’ son Salacius damaged the family name when he was caught in an Arkham hotel chanting strange pagan supplications in the company of several inappropriately underdressed women of the night trade. His cousin Usurius ascended to the railroad presidency and sold out to the Boston & Maine in 1907. Redundant routes, like the line west to the Hoosac Tunnel, were soon abandoned and the rest of the trackage reduced to a part of the B&M's web of ill-kempt branch lines.
A typhoid epidemic crippled Arkham’s business prospects in 1905. The Great Fire of 1911 destroyed Pernicius Beebe’s station district and the old stone depot, which was dynamited to make a fire break. Its stones were hauled away to become riprap on the eroding banks of the Miskatonic River. It was replaced with the nondescript Boston & Maine station H.P. Lovecraft and other Arkham chroniclers noted in the 1920s. The rest of the old district was turned into rail yards, but now all those are gone too. Not many relics are left of the fabled Miskatonic Railroad. It has all become just another story connected with history-haunted Arkham.
In 1838, Captain Obed Marsh of the nearby port of Innsmouth returned from a trading expedition with the first of the strange modern cults that soon found many converts among the Arkhamites— the Esoteric Order Of Dagon. The Beebes of Arkham were early adherents.

Also in 1838, Fallacius ordered the line's first locomotive from Stevenson in England, a 2-2-2 Patentee that he named Dagon, which he proudly baptized with a bottle of something resembling blood (details are lacking) and drove through the mob of screaming, cursing draymen on the day of the railroad’s opening.