Milford’s Early Transportation

                                                           By Gordon E. Hopper

    MILFORD – Early transportation in the Milford area was supplied by railroads and stages which ran
    between Milford and Upton, Hopedale, Mendon and the Medways. These stages continued in use
    down to the time of the establishment of the trolley system.

    The first impetus toward establishing connections with these towns, upon whom the local
    merchants  depended much for their trade, came in 1887  when electric cars started to operate in
    Woonsocket, RI.

    A great interest was evidenced in them and many Milford residents took a ride in their buggies to see
    them. All were excited and enthusiastic and during the following year, a street car company wanted
    the right to lay tracks on Central Street. A little later that same year, the Board of Selectmen granted
    the Milford & Hopedale Street Railway Company the right to lay such tracks.

    Operations on Central Street started in 1891 and by 1896, electric cars were running from Milford to
    Framingham and Hopedale.

    A special factory was built in 1892 for the manufacture of storage battery-operated cars but a fight over
    a patent right forced the discontinuance of these cars in Milford.

    By this time, public sentiment was turning to the use of trolley cars and W.B. Ferguson, a man with a
    lot of money, interested himself in the establishment of trolley lines from Milford to the surrounding
    towns and in 1895, franchises were granted for rails to Framingham, Holliston, Medway, Hopkinton
    and Hopedale.

    By 1896, a powerhouse which furnished electric current for the cars was completed and on May 15,
    1896, service was started to Framingham. It is recorded that at this time, the fare to Boston by steam
    train was 75 cents, while the electric cars charged only 45 cents.

    The Milford to Medway street car line was opened on September 27, 1897 and plans were underway
    for a Milford-Upton line at that time. This line was proposed to go through Central, Exchange and
    West streets to Upton. After much fighting among the selectmen, they heeded the choice of the
    people as registered at a public meeting and finally granted a franchise for this route. However, the
    towns of Grafton and Hopedale refused to grant the franchise and in 1902, it was decided to have the
    Upton cars run from Hopedale to Grafton on the Grafton and Upton Railroad tracks.

    In another direction street railway development was more rapid. In 1899, the line called the Milford,
    Attleboro & Woonsocket was opened. Its Milford branch which opened on September 7, 1900,
    collapsed when the automobile made it a financial burden to its stockholders. The Milford-Hopkinton
    line became operational two years later.

    The Milford & Uxbridge Street Railway opened on December 20, 1901 after absorbing the old Milford,
    Holliston and Framingham line. During 1901, this line carried 1,097,557 passengers and the
    Woonsocket lines carried 1,489,950 passengers.

    Due to there being no railway connection between North Milford and the rest of the world, a trackless
    trolley company wanted a franchise to set up such a line to run to the isolated section.

    These cars would have a trolley but no rails, thus making them cheaper to install and maintain. Over
    a period of several years, this company asked for franchises, got them and then lost them by not
    starting operations. They finally completely dropped out of the picture.

    Trolley companies saw their doom approaching steadily with the influx of cars being purchased. Taxi
    services and private hauling by automobiles were digging into the passenger services of all the
    trolley lines in Milford.

    The Woonsocket line was the first one to succumb. Their service had been unsteady and in 1925 it
    decided to quit. One the day of the discontinuance, the Johnson Bus Lines, Inc., started operating
    motor busses to Bellingham, Franklin and Wrentham.

    The Milford & Uxbridge Street Railway stuck it out and in 1924 single fares were raised to 13 cents. In
    1928, this line was purchased by the Citron-Byer Co. and trolley operations came to an end in Milford.

    Research material used in the preparation of this feature story was supplied by Robin Philbin of
    Milford. Milford Daily News.

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Office and car barn of the Milford & Uxbridge Street Railway Company