In 1845 the Worcester & Nashua Railroad Co. was chartered, and in 1848 went into operation. The original (W&N RR) connected the City of Worcester with the City of Nashua, NH along the east side of the Nashua River Valley, and ultimately connected southward through Connecticut to Long Island Sound and New York City. Eventually the line went northward to Rochester, NH and Portland, ME. The Worcester & Nashua RR intersected the Fitchburg RR at South Groton in 1848, and thus "The Great Junction" (the future Town of Ayer) was born as a railroad town. The (W&N RR) passenger & freight line met with its demise as did most other historic New England railroad lines by the late 1960s; although some limited freight was still running on the Worcester & Nashua RR line into the late 1970s & early 1980s.
By the early 1990s the "Rail to Trail" Movement was energizing all across New England and other parts of the country. In the late 1990s the first section of the Nashua River Rail Trail was designed, constructed and opened to the public! In 1997-98 the 1.3 mile section of the Nashua Heritage Rail Trail was designed, constructed and opened. The southern (Ayer-Groton) Rail Trail section was eventually connected with the Nashua, NH Rail Trail section, creating a 12.5 mile Rail Trail running through some of the most beautiful and interesting natural & urban areas in North Central Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. From the very day of it's opening it has been widely recognized as one of New England's best and most popular "Rail Trails". The Nashua River Rial Trail runs through Ayer, Groton, Pepperell and Dunstable in Massachusetts.
During the Spring, Summer and Fall the Nashua River Rail Trail southern anchor Parking Lot in Downtown Ayer is usually filled with cars and enthused groups and families of bicyclists, roller-bladers, walkers, etc. (from the break of dawn until the dusk) preparing to embark on their adventure and memories upon the Nashua River Rail Trail. In the Winter the Rail Trail nicely accomodates corss country skiers, snow-shoers, and other winter-loving outdoor enthusiasts.
The Nashua River Rail Trail Parking Lot in Downtown Ayer is currently a large surface lot. However, the construction of a fine new 170 car Commuter Passenger Rail Parking Deck will begin construction in mid-late 2018. The new Parking Deck will be open for no charge to all Rail Trail users on the weekends (day & evening) and (weekday) evenings. The new Parking Deck will provide additional parking spaces, improved lighting at the Head of the Rail Trail, better Wayfinding Signage, and additional overall improvements to make the Rail Trail experience beter and better for all.