Friday, March 20, 2009

Electric Trolleys of the Early 1900s

The first electric railway to service Governor Dummer Academy and its environs opened for business in 1900. The Georgetown, Rowley, and Ipswich electric railway, which switched by the Milestone, offered transportation for the campus community. Cars left the academy every half hour for Ipswich, Georgetown, and Newburyport. According to Governor Dummer History, 1763-1963, written by former academy headmaster John W. Ragle, "One popular feature of the innovation was that it brought to the Academy dances young ladies from as far as Rowley and Haverhill." A photograph of the electric railway switch near the Milestone can be seen below.

The route between Newburyport and Governor Dummer Academy crossed a trestle over Little River, paralleled the Newburyport Turnpike (to/from Boston), and diverged to Middle Street, where the track continued to the junction at the academy. From there, travelers could take the line to Georgetown (via Elm Street) or to Ipswich (via a continuation on Middle Road back to the turnpike road).

By the time the following advertisement for the Byfield Express was published in 1943, rail service had expanded considerably. The advertisement describes the scenery to be taken in while traveling from Newburyport to points south and west via Byfield, the "Cradle of Liberty and the Seat of Learning!" Notice the arrival and departure times at the conclusion of the advertisement: it took only 2.5 hours to get from Market Square in Newburyport to Haverhill, Massachusetts, a distance of approximately 15 miles.