May 1, 2008
Hopedale History
No. 107
he G & U

Hopedale in April  

She Still Stands Tall - a poem about Drapers by Dick Orff   

   It has now been several months since the work of the contractor at the Little Red Shop Museum has been completed, and some of you have asked when it will open. Since much remains to be done, we are not yet able to set a date. We need to have a significant amount of electrical work done, (work that wasn't part of the contract), and we have to get bookcases, display cases and cabinets. There are many pictures that need to be framed and hung. Looms that went into storage during the project will have to be moved back.. Landscaping, not just for appearance, but also to make the handicapped entrance ramp workable, has to be finished before we can open. We could open before the Red Shop is red, but we expect the painting will be completed by the time other work is done. If at all possible, even if we're not ready for a "grand opening," we'll have the shop open on Day in the Park.


   With stories in the news of the Grafton and Upton Railroad possibly running again, it seems like a good time for a bit of the history of the line. 

Grafton-Upton Railroad
                                         19-Mile Line Opened with Gala Celebration 

By George G. Newton  

   Eighty-three years ago tomorrow, May 17, 1890, the Grafton & Upton railroad line was opened with much fanfare between North Grafton and Milford. 

   The G & U continues to maintain its freight service with its headquarters in Hopedale. 

   In addition to hauling for the Draper Corp. plant, a division of Rockwell International, the line is busy daily with freight cars containing salt into West Upton, which is distributed by trucks to various points in New England, and heavy equipment delivered here for a distributor in Hopkinton. Coke and other commodities are brought to the West Upton station for delivery. 

   The line is 19 miles long and one of the shortest rail lines still in operation in the U.S. 

   The Grafton & Upton Railroad had as its forebear the Grafton Center Railroad, a three-mile narrow gauge road between North Grafton (terminus at the then Boston & Albany line) and Grafton Center being completed Aug. 10, 1874. Subsequently the narrow gauge was standardized in 1887 and extended to West Upton, being completed May 12, 1889, largely through the Knowlton family interests of this town which operated one of, if not the largest, women's hat manufacturing plants in the world. The firm needed the transportation to ship its hats to all parts of the U.S. and Canada. Boston and Lynn interests also financially assisted in the extension. There was a celebration when Upton had its first official passenger-baggage train arrive at West Upton. 

   Then came the movement to continue the line to Hopedale and Milford. Some 200 men and 75 teams (no heavy automotive equipment then available) built the extension from West Upton to Milford, which was opened May 17, 1890. Three gangs of workmen did the job, one in Milford, another in Hopedale and the third in Upton. 

   Eighty-three years ago a long parade formed at the Town Hall to march to the Upton railroad station, razed a few years ago for a Hopkinton Boy Scout camp. It was a history-making day for the railroad, for the residents of Grafton, Upton, Hopedale and Milford. The through railroad line had been built - about 19 miles long. It is one of the few independent railroad lines to continue operation. It was built to connect with the now Penn RR at North Grafton and the New Haven line at Milford. 

   On the eventful day of opening the railroad service, a group of 12 of Upton's pretty young women carried at 125-foot length rope of evergreen from the Town Hall to decorate the locomotive. A wreath was placed on its headlight. Rev. George Sumner Ball, a Civil War chaplain and minister of the local Unitarian Church more than 40 years, was the day's orator. According to a record, 325 tickets were sold on the opening day. 

   The Grafton & Upton RR Co. purchased the Upton Street Railway June 19, 1902. The railway had served only the town for about 2 miles. In the meantime the railroad had been electrified and trolley cars were placed in service. The freight service continued with locomotives until April 22, 1919 when the railroad line purchased two electric engines. 

   "The Loop," formerly the Upton Street Railway, was connected to the main line of the electrified Grafton & Upton Railroad at Brooks Street, Upton and Jourdan's crossing, Williams Street. "The Loop" closed down June 1, 1919. Rails and overhead wires were removed.

   Trolley passenger service over the Grafton and Upton main line was discontinued August 31, 1928, but the freight service was maintained.
Milford Daily News, May 16, 1973

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