May 1, 2008
he G & U
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.
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 ¾ 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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