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

    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

    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