In 1924, the Kingston Highway Department did a good deal of work on the roads — particularly West Street, Pembroke Street, and Maple Street — and a new “highway beacon” was installed.
While discussions of municipal spending on roadways dates back to the earliest town meetings, automobile traffic — that “modern method of travel” — was a new and rapidly growing concern. Highway Surveyor Warren S. Nickerson did his best to balance repairs, new construction and snow removal within his budget. He pointed out in his annual report that costs were held down by judicious purchase and careful maintenance of equipment.
Some of those parts came from the Buffalo-Springfield Roller Company.
Sources: Town of Kingston Annual Reports; TOK-5 Accounting
Sometime before 1920, Emily Drew photographed the wooden dam at Elm Street before it was replaced by a concrete structure. She also captured the old iron bridge constructed in 1889 to carry Elm Street over the Jones River. Stop by the library to learn more about the bridge.
In the search for photographs for the summertime exhibit, these three images turned up. As seen in earlierposts, the Plymouth & Kingston trolley, which started in 1886, merged with other lines and expanded until the tracks reached Brockton in 1900. The emergence of Kingston as a summer destination and the development of the cottage communities of Rocky Nook quickly followed.
While it’s not clear if these men are motormen (drivers) or conductors (ticket takers, schedule keepers and safety inspectors), they seem very serious about the work at hand, or at least about posing for the photographer.
Some time ago, an unknown photographer captured this moment of tranquility on the river. The Old Colony Railroad bridge can be seen in the distance at left, along with at least one of the boathouses that stand between Landing Road and the riverbank. The stone wall at right is the end of the seawall (or river-wall) that runs from the Great Bridge along the property that was once Alexander Holmes’ Jones River Farm.
On the 1900 Federal Census, as on others before, each head of household was asked to give his (or more rarely, her) occupation. Along Summer Street, these included dry goods merchant, station agent for the railroad, boarding house keeper, stone cutter and teacher, until the census taker came to Horatio Adams, who declared “Capitalist.”
Here is the Capitalist at his desk.
And the tools the capitalist used to manage his labors? The book atop the glass case reads “Neapolitan Ice Cream” probably a business directory of some sort, and inside the case, “A Fragment of Plymouth Rock” with a certificate attesting to its authenticity. There’s a telephone and an electric lamp, a fountain pen and a blotter. There are law books piled and documents filed in pigeon holes. There’s also a picture on Horatio’s desk of someone sitting at a desk which looks at lot like this one.
The second photo seems earlier: there’s no phone or electric lamp, though the desk looks the same.
Horatio Adams, according to his obituary, worked in the Boston Office of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, then moved to New York with the company for a year. He returned to Boston to work for Frank Hay, “an expert accountant,” and was employed by the firm of John A. Burnham and Sons for many years.
His connection with the Old Colony Railroad and its various 19th century incarnations began early. He was born on the day the first train passed through Kingston, November 8, 1845 and except for his year in New York, took the train to Boston every day until his death on April 7, 1911. His obituary noted that he was the oldest commuter in and out of Boston.
Horatio is also closely connected to the Kingston Library. His portrait hangs in the Local History Room and photos of him appear in numerous collections. He and his mother Lydia (Mrs. George T.) Adams donated land upon which the Town built KPL’s predecessor, the Frederic C. Adams Library, funded by the will of Horatio’s uncle. Horatio served as a Trustee for Adams Library for some time.
Returning to Horatio’s capitalist ways, stock certificates and investment prospectuses in LHR collections show his interest in all kinds of ventures, including the development of Fort Payne, Alabama and office buildings in the Mid-west. Perhaps the most interesting is the booklet prospectus for the Colossal Elephant. Stay tuned for that.
Sources: Two obituaries, dated April 7 and April 15, 1911, from an unknown newspaper in the Obituary Notebook in the LHR
WARNING: For the historical thought experiment that follows, imagine there’s no traffic on Route 3A/Summer Street. Yes, it’s not easy, and if you can’t persuade yourself, please DON’T stand in the middle of the street! You have been warned!
Stand in the middle of Summer Street just south of Evergreen and face north to recreate this view. Competing merchants Myrick’s (the whole building since picked up and moved around the corner onto Evergreen) and Burges & Keith are to the left, the railroad crossing a directly ahead, and the Post Office block to the right. The hydrants on the sidewalk give one clue to the date: no earlier than 1887, when the water pipes were laid.
Watch out there’s a buggy coming!
Step aside for the buggy, turn around 180 degrees and look up the hill toward Green Street for this view. The stairs up to Myrick’s can just be seen at right, although the post and rail are different than in the preceding image. The water pipes ready to be installed on both sides of the street provide the date.
Ignore the caption — you’re still on Summer Street — and walk up the hill past Green. Turn around again. A little closer to the sidewalk, that’s right. A corner of the Kingston Inn (now the site of the Library) can be seen at left and the columns of the Frederic C. Adams Library at right.
Two years ago, we noted that the wooden planks in the Howland’s Lane bridge over the railroad tracks needed to be replaced, an issue had been under discussion for a decade. The bridge, built in the 1870s and renovated during the 1930s, is now closed for repairs. Rocky Nook’s primary water main, carried over the tracks underneath the bridge, will also be upgraded. See here and here for details.
Here are few early images of the bridge and the surrounding area.
How peaceful is this setting in the fields. One can hardly imagine the many trains that now go to steadily stream to and from Plymouth each day.
The Standish monument already stood across the Bay, but other familiar elements were missing. Howland’s Lane was not yet unpaved. No water line crossed the bridge. No one lived in Rocky Nook. Gray’s Beach Park was still a marshy, rocky shore. Shade trees stood few and far between. It’s easy to imagine old Joshua Delano walking along the tracks, travelling from his warehouse at the wharf now named for him to his home on Main Street for his mid-day meal.
For more about Old Colony Railroad, check out the Local History Room’s exhibit case.
At one of their earliest meetings, the Directors of the Old Colony Railroad voted to give the engines historical names related to Plymouth. The “Mayflower” along with the “Miles Standish” pulled the very first trainload of dignitaries officials on the railroad’s inaugural excursion on November 8, 1845.
The purple trains that stop in Kingston along the Old Colony line to connect commuters to the larger regional rail system have a long and interesting history.
The Massachusetts Legislature chartered the Old Colony Railroad on March 16, 1844. John Sever of Kingston was elected the new company’s first President. Just a year and a half later, on November 8, 1845, the first ceremonial train loaded with company officials and invited dignitaries traveled the 37 miles from South Boston to Plymouth. And over the next 50 years, the Old Colony line expanded to cover much of eastern Massachusetts by building branch lines, leasing existing routes and merging with other railroads.
For example, in 1854, the Old Colony consolidated with the Fall River Railroad.
In 1855, the President of the Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Company, Kingstonian Alexander Holmes, issued this pass to his “Wood Agent” and fellow Kingstonian George Adams. Mr. Holmes had secured the services of Mr. Adams in May of 1850, and charged the company $20 for doing so as his debit account shows.
The Old Colony & Fall River had become the Old Colony & Newport in 1866 (the full accounting extends to that year, the last of Mr. Holmes presidency). The company reverted to its original corporate name in 1872 after absorbing the Cape Cod Railroad. By 1892, the Old Colony Railroad stretched from Provincetown to Providence, west to Worcester, north to Fitchburg, over to Lowell and back down to Boston.
Kingston’s “local” line exemplifies the growth and consolidation of the railroad industry through the 19th century. Small lines incorporated, then grew and combined into ever-larger conglomerates. In 1893, the Old Colony’s Providence Division caught the eye of the mighty New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad — known as the New Haven — as a direct connection to Boston. Rather than lease this important component to its larger neighbor, the Old Colony leased itself as a whole and was subsumed. The New Haven continued to expand, eventually taking over not only most of the railroads in the northeast, but trolley lines and steamships as well
In 1935, decades of aggressive purchases and accumulated debt lead the New Haven to bankruptcy (for the first time).
The Old Colony line still carried passengers, as shown by Kingstonian Helen Foster’s ticket book. The commercial artist commuted to her studio on Park Street in Boston by train until 1946, when she shifted her workplace back to Kingston. In 1947, the New Haven emerged from receivership. Despite some success in the early 1950s, overwhelming debt combined with the growing interstate system led the New Haven to discontinue service on the Old Colony line in 1959. The New Haven limped on to 1961, when it declared bankruptcy again; in 1969 it became part of the gargantuan Penn Central, which itself failed three years later, marking the final collapse of the railroad behemoths that had dominated the country for a century.
In Massachusetts, regionalism saved the rails. In 1964 the MBTA was formed and the next year, it laid claim to the New Haven’s tracks in and around Boston. Over the next four decades, purple trains began to appear along the commuter rail system. In 1997, the Old Colony line once again ran through Kingston.