The Mendon Trolley  —  Its First Tour

The long – awaited maiden voyage of the Milford – Uxbridge Electric Street Railway was met with jubilation by the people of Mendon on December 19, 1901. The exuberant citizens had waited several months for the tracks, wires, and bridges to be installed and tested. This was in anticipation of the new means of transportation that promised to bring change to their economy and way of life. The arrival of the first trolley car created joy and enthusiasm, and the excited crowd let the passengers know that they were welcome.

The initial ride began in Milford and traveled through Hopedale, Mendon, and Uxbridge. Town officials and dignitaries from each town were invited to board the trolley at designated stops at the entrance to the town centers. Each town along the tracks greeted the decorated vehicle with warmth and cheers, but it was Mendon’s welcome that was one to be remembered.

A large crowd welcomed the trolley. People were dressed in their finest clothing. The houses were adorned with bunting. One hundred fifty school children cheered and waved flags in front of the Town Hall.  Ladies waved kerchiefs, and men waved flags. Bells rang at the Union Evangelical (the present Taft Library) and the Unitarian Churches. Surely, the dignitaries had to be impressed with the festive greeting, but there was another element in the celebration that likely left them startled and ready to dive for cover! They were met with gunfire and cannon blasts. After they got over the initial reaction of wondering if they might be under attack, they realized that the apparent military greeting was simply part of the excitement. The townspeople made it extremely clear that the railway would be most welcome.

The new means of transportation marked the beginning of long- term change. Nipmuc Park revitalized the economy on weekends, and new occupational opportunities became available to Mendon farmers. The trolley provided easy access to factories and businesses in neighboring towns. Decisions were made in many families to give up farming as a way of life and to sell off the land for housing development. The trolley system ended in 1928, being replaced by the popularity of the automobile. Throughout the century, Mendon’s population grew as houses replaced farms. The maiden voyage of the electric street railway in December of 1901 was met with jubilation. It was a day that changed the town forever!
Richard Grady  and John Trainor  —  February 3, 2014

(Information for this article was obtained from an article of the Milford Daily Journal,  December 20, 1901, “Milford and Uxbridge Cars Now Running”). 

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