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Amesbury  and Newburyport Trolley Lines


Trolley Car Builders

This page contains what I have found and it is not infallible. All comments and corrections are welcomed. Royal Feltner

Text and photographs on this page have been copied and edited by me from several archived internet magazines and internet sites. One of these was Historic Photos of Newbury.  Also a great deal was taken from several O.R. Cummings books that I own. William Ellis, great-grandson of the founder of Ellis Car Co., is contributing to this page.

Amesbury and Newburyport have been closely connected from the earliest days of the settlements and the earliest street railroads were between the two towns with horse drawn cars. Newburyport Car Company, in 1886, was the first to build cars for the its line to Amesbury. Ellis Car Co. started in 1889 and Briggs Car Co. followed in 1890. Both of these were in Amesbury. All three companies had cars running on the same lines and built cars for other railways throughout the country.

The railways that are featured here encompassses the Merrimac Valley and the towns of Exeter and Hampton New Hampshire that had connections to Amesbury. They were very small and connected to each other so as to complete longer lines. The Plum Island Railway ran from one end Northern Boulevard to end of Southern Boulevard, Black Rock and Salisbury Beach Railway first ran from Black Rock on the southern end to the Seabrook Line on the northern end. Later it was extended to the Hampton River; The Newburyport & Amesbury Railway ran from the center of Plum Island to Market Square in Amesbury via the Chain Bridge and Main Street with a line from Amesbury to Merrimac via River Road to Merrimacport and on to Merrimac Center.  Exeter, Hampton, and Amesbury Railway was from Exeter to Hampton Beach Casino with a line from Smithtown in Seabrook to Market Square in Amesbury. All of these became a part of the history of trolley cars in Amesbury.

There were five trolley railways plus the B. M. Railroad, connected to Amesbury: Newburyport and Amesbury, Haverhill and Amesbury; Hampton and Amesbury, Haverhill, Plaistow, and Newton, and Exeter, Hampton, & Amesbury. This is the reason why it was called THE HUB.

All trolley travelers West and North of Amesbury wanting to travel to the Seacoast had to come through Amesbury. If one wanted to travel from Concord, NH to the seacoast region, he had a 110 mile, seven-hour trip to Portsmouth. He would go through Manchester, Derry, Pehlam, Salem, Lawrence, Haverhill, Amesbury, Seabrook, Hampton, and finally Portsmouth. There were many articles in magazines of the period that were written about going through Amesbury and how beautiful the country side and the rolling hills were. One article told about passing the beautiful Kenoza Lake, having the conductor stopping at Whittier's birthplace to let the passengers get a good look at it, how the rolling hills and meadows passed by the nearby Lake Atittash and the summer resort there that was for Amesbury residents, and finally about Whittier's home and the Friend's Meeting House.

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Lake Attish

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Whitier's Birthplace

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Lake Attitash

Another one was about the spectacular Chain Bridge from Amesbury to Newburyport. The Exeter, Hampton, and Amesbury Rail Way was built to Amesbury because it was considered the hub and four thousand workers there would be able to visit the beach and the casino. The reason that the store owners were overjoyed about the Haverhill and Amesbury Rail Way was that the people in Amesbury would come to Haverhill to shop and the rumor was that free tickets were offered to any shopper. If one wanted to travel from Newburyport to Salisbury Beach, he had two choices; the wisest one was to go through Amesbury to Salisbury Beach; the other was to take a trolley to the middle of the bridge on Bridge Street and wait for a Haverhill and Amesbury car to pick him up. Going home by this route was not very wise either because the trolley would stop in the middle of the bridge and let him off to fend for himself.

The Haverhill and Amesbury cars initial stop was at Sparkhawk and Main Street, but later the city selectmen gave the line permssion to extend tracks to Market Square. The hitch there was that the Newburyport and Amesbury company already had tracks and the new lines had to be built beside them. This caused the town many headaches in the winter months with snow plowing. Whichever one got there first would plow the snow on the other's line and fights between the workers would would start. Finally, the two shared the same line from Sparhawk to Market Square. Also, Monument Square in Haverhill was the final stop and one had to manage to get home on his own from there. However, the trolleys were the fastest and most enjoyable way to go. Many families would pack a picnic basket for a trip, enjoy the cool breeze and scenery, and bask in the sun on a beach and enjoy a wonderful time together.

Most of the lines prospered in the early days until the enthusiasm wore off. This began to happen around 1905 and many of the smaller lines were purchased by larger companies or declared bankruptcy. The 1903 Amesbury carriage workers strike was devastating to the town because most of the small carriage makers did not survive and hundreds of trolley car users were laid off. Briggs Car Co shut down because of the strike. Ellis Car Company was destroyed by a fire in 1894 and did not rebuild. Trolley rail service continued through Amesbury until 1921.

Rail Way Lines

Newburyport and Amesbury Horse Railway Co.

A charter was given in 1864 for the building of the Newburyport and Amesbury Horse Railroad, but plans for the construction were not made until 1871. It took two years to raise the money to start construction. The road would start in Market Square in Newburyport and go down Merrimac Street and across the Chain Bridge onto Main Street, Amesbury and then proceed to Market Square. Market Square was at that time in Salisbury.

Its ten-year lease was to expire in 1883 and dissatisfied coustomers demanded that a new lessor be founded.. Mr. E. P. Shaw, owner of the steamboats that were used on the Merrimac River,  wound up with the lease. He also owned the Black Rocks and Salisbury Beach Horse Railway Co. During his short time with the company, more cars and equipment wre purchased and the line rally prospered.

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Newburyport & Amesbury Horse Drawn at the Car Barn

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Newburyport & Amesbury Horse Drawn at Chain Bridge

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Ellis Car at the car house just before electrification

It was decided in 1889 to experiment with electrification of the horse drawn railways, The Amesbury-Merrimac line was chosen and the direct current generator furnished by Thomas-Huston Electric Co, Lynn, MA, was installed in the steam planrt of the Amesbury Electric Co. on Oak Street. Wires were strung from Market Square to Merrimac by way of River Road through Merrimacport on to Merrimac center. Two single truck closed cars, No. 32 and 34, built by the newly formed Ellis Car Co., were purchased for this experiment. Car No. 32 left for Merrimac around midnight on October 14. A short circuit in one of the motors had to be repaired at Market Square. It made the round trip without any more troubles. Car No. 34 was delivered the next day and it ran withount any troubles. The first scheduled run was made on October 18 and the time round trip time was 90 minutes. Only one car was used regularly with the other being held in reserve. These cars were the first electrified cars to be used in the seacoast region. This was the first major extension to the line. The company changed it name to the Newburyport and Amesbury Street Railway.

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Ellis Car No. 32 , 12-bench closed, The first electric car to run in the Seacost Region

In 1889, a major line was made from Amesbury to Merrimac via Merrimac Street along the river to Merrimacport and on into Merrimac Center. Later, there were two other extensions. One was started at State Street and  ran down Pleasant Street and several other streets to High Street, turned right and continued by Three Roads to Low what was then known as Newburyport Plains. The electricication was begun on the entire line in 1890. The power plant was built at Jefferson and Merrimac Streets. The first car left the garage for Amesbury but broke down at the Powow River and had to be towed back by horses. New cars were purchased from Ellis Car Co. and in early 1891 the line was finished and cars began to run from Market Square, Newburyport to Market Square in Amesbury. That June, a fire destroyed the Car house with a large number cars and equipment completely destroyed.  Replacements were leased or bought ftom the West End Railway, Boston,   and immediately were placed in service.

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Newburyport Car Co. No. 8 at Three Roads, Story Ave.

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Ellis Car No. 20, on High Street in Newburyport Bound for Three Roads and Story Ave.

The other route ran up State Street and turned left toward Newbury at High Street and ended at the town line. Later it was extended to Little's Lane in 1890 and extended further to the Parker River in 1891   The first run was on July 4th

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The first car to make the trip from Newburyport to the Parker River, Newbury. on July 4th. 1891 and still had the Grove Hall name. Grove Hall was in Roxbury, Shortly before this, a fire had destroyed the car barn with all of the rolling stock and replacements had to be purchased from the Westend Railway MA. It was made by the  Jones Car Co.

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Ellis Car  crossing the Chain Bridge on its way to Amesbury with the Steamer Merrimac passing below going to Black Rocks, Salisbury

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No 37, Ellis Co, Parker River Line, 1894


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Car House built in 1891 at Break O' Day Hill, on Merrimac St.

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No 21, Briggs Car at the car house


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Due to flooding of the Merrimack River and for lack of funds  to repair the bed of the track, Ellis car No. 32 on February 5 1892, left the track and went into the river.

With the purchase of the open cars from the West End Railway, closed cars were purchased from Ellis Car Co. in Amesbury. Before the fire, all the cars used by the company had been purchased from Ellis. It was not until 1894 that Newburyport cars were used. This was done because Ellis Car Co. was totally destroyed by a fire that year. Ellis decided not to build any more cars. They purchased the building at 99 Friend Street that was formerly used by the Briggs Carriage Co. Ellis continued in his carriage and wagon business.

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Two six-sash Ellis cars at Market Square

In 1892, the company owned 13 sixteen feet closed cars with either five or six drop sash windows on each side that could carry twenty-two passengers. It also owned 7 open eight bench, seating forty-two passengers. There were four electric and one horse-drawn snow plows.

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Car No. 31, open bench at the car station in Amesbury

In 1897, the company got the rights to extend its line down Water Street and the Plum Island Turnpike, a toll road and toll bridge that   was leased to them, to the center and to the light house. This new portion was named the Plum Island Electric Street Railway. Eight 10-bench open cars were bought from the Newburyport Car Co. Power was furnished by the Newburyport and Amesbury Power Co. and were given the rights to drive to Market Square.

From 1905 on the railway lost more money than colected and ran into hard times. Without any money to pay for repairs, the tracks and cars could not be repaired. Notes were being unpaid and refinancing was not available. In September of 1898 the payment on bond was not paid and the bank filed suit again them for non payment. A receiver was appointed and auctioned of the railway line and all merchandise.  E.P. Shaw and a syndicate bought the Newburyport and Amesbury Railway Co, lock, stock, and barrel for $190.000. The next day it became the Citizens Electric Street Railway.

Their first priority was to rebuild the system in its entirety with new tracks and wiring.  The Haverhill and Amesbury Railway assisted them in redoing the tracks in Market Square, Newburyport and ran double lines in Amesbury from Huntington Square to Market Square. In the meantime, Shaw purchased the Plum Island Electric Street Railway. The Plum Island line and the Citizens line merge and kept the Citizens' name. Citizens" now had five lines; Newburyport to Amesbury, Newburyport to Plum Island, Newburyport to Parker River, Newburyport Hight Street, and Amesbury to Merrimac. Because Shaw was also the owner of the Newburyport Car Co., these cars were used.

A fire destroyed the car house at Break O'Day Hill with twenty five cars in 1904. A new car house was built on Merrimac Street that in later years was used by the Coca Cola Bottling Co.

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The new car house

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Citizens' Electric Car No. 90 at Parker River, the end of the line

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Citizens Electric No. 71 on Merrimac  St., Amesbury, headed for Merrimac

Even though he Merrimac route via the Pleasant Valley road to Merrimac was a losing proposition, the line was held open until 1905 when the cours agreed to do so. The Citizens's Electgric Street Railway was a profitible line for the bond holders and all dividends were paid on time. By doing this less money was available tor upkeep on railway.In 1907, a newly formed stock holding company, the Merrimac Valley Electric Co. was formed for its stocks. E.P Shaw sttill was the owner and remaind so until 1911. This company also oned the Haverhill and Amesbury Railway Co. The Haverhill and Amesbury was sold to the New Hamoshire Electric Railways in 1909.

In 1911, the Citizens' Electric Street Railway was sold to the New Hampshire Electric Railways and two years later it was sold to the Massachusetts Northeastern Streeet Railway. The railway was the Newburyport division.

Sea Side Railroad Co.

In 1879, Enoch Northend operated a two-mile long horse drawn railroad from Black Rocks wharf on the mouth of the Merrimac River to the center of Salisbury Beach that was used only in the summer months. The Merrimac Valley Steamboat Company, owned by E.P. Shaw of Newburyport, would carry passengers to visit to the hotels and cottages that were being constructed along the beach. The car barn and horse stables were located at Black Rocks. He sold his interest to Shaw in 1883. Shaw immediately organized the Black Rocks and Salisbury Beach Railway.

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The Steamboat Merrimac passing under the Chain Bridge

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Another Steamer approaching the Chain Bridge

These two pictures depict just how busy the river traffic was to and from Black Rocks

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Steamer Merimack with passengers at Black Rock

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Horse Drawn Trolley at the Cable House


Black Rock & Salisbury Beach Railway

Because of the growth of the beach area, the line was extended to Salisbury center in 1888. A year later, lines were extended to Newburyort and to Market Square in Amesbury. In 1890,  two steam dummies, an engine that pulled several cars, were purchased for beach usage because conditions on the beaches took a heavy toll on horses.  In 1891, the line was electrified to the beach, but it was returned to horse drawn. It was again electrified in 1892 when the Haverhill and Amesbury Railway Co. purchased this portion of the route. The horse drawn line to Black Rocks was never electrified.  The dummy Jetty was purchased from Plum Island Railway in 1898.

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Salisbury Beach an open trolley car

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The pavilion at the beach


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Trolleys at  Salisbury Beach

In 1888 the trolley line was extended to the New Hampshire line at Seabrook Beach. Another company named the New Hampshire Black Rocks Railway was built a line from Salisbury to Hampton River. This line was also owned by Shaw. He now owned all the lines on the beaches from the Hampton River to the southern end of Plum Island and he also owned the steamers that brought passengers to these towns. Salisbury Beach and Plum Island had grown extensively in a short period of time with Salisbury Beach having over 600 houses was considered as a town.

Plum Island Railway

In 1886, E. P. Shaw, shortly after he gained stock control of the Neburyport & Amesbury Horse Rairoad, started construction of a horse trolley line on Plum Island. He also owned the Plum Island Turnpike and the bridge to Plum Island. The line would go from the hotel at the center of the island to a his steam boat landing on the Merimac Rivers so his steamboats could carry passengers to and from the hotel.  

Service to and from Newburyport to Plum Island began in June of 1887 with one closed and nine open cars. This was a seasonal railway.

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Plum Island Hotel, Newburyport, MA.

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The Jetty  was a combination passenger and dummy car.  It was sold to the Salisbury Beach  Railway in 1898

Copied from the 1888 Issue of the Street Car Revue Magazine

"The directors are making inquiries in regard to using dummy engines on the whole of their road next season. They are having flying horses and other attractions made for Plum island. A number of new houses are being erected there. They expect an increase in business over last year, although the directors will not complain if they receive as much as last year for a dividend—7 per cent. These will be increased by steamboat facilities from Haverhill and up-river towns the coming summer, which will increase the street railway business at Newburyport and to the beach." 

In April of 1898, Plum Island Electric Railway bought the Dummy Rail service and was granted permission to build the Plum Island rail line, a distance of four miles. Rail service between Newburyport and Plum Island was electrified in 1898 on Northern Boulevard and service began, but Southern Boulvard was never electrified. They bought eight 10-Bench opens from Newburyport Car Company and later a freight car. Service to Plum Island was seasonal. The Plum Island Electric Railway was a subsiderery of the Neburyport & Amesbury Rail Road Co. The Plum Island Line was profitable, but the Newburyport & Amesbury was not.

Copied  from the 1890 Electrical World Magazine

The Plum Island Street Railway has been transferred to the Black Rocks & Salisbury Beach Street Railway Company. The consideration is $ 1.00 and the grantee engages to pay the debts of the grantor, amounting to $10,000, and pay $100 per share for the stock on demand. A mortgage has also been recorded from the Black Hocks & Salisbury Beach Street Railway Company to the International Trust Company for $103,000 to guarantee bonds to be issued to pay the debt of $10,000 of the Plum Island road and tho debt of the Black Rocks & Salisbury Beach Railway. The paid up capital stock of the latter road has been increased to $225,000.

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10-bench open purchased from the Newburyport Car 1898.
Plum Island's name is above  the cab

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The Plum Island Line was later electrified
A car sits at the theater and dance hall

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Trolley Cars at Plum Island, Newbury, and Newburyport

Peoples Street Railway

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The Peoples Street Railroad ran from Bailey's Lane in West Newbury to Low Street in Newburyport by way of what is now Rt. 113. It was organized by business men in Merrimac and West Newbury and was approved by the legistlature in 1892. The Haverhill and Groveland Horse Railway had a line from Haverhill through Groveland to Bailey's Lane. Lines were approved by Newburyport to run lines into Newburyport. In 1897, a syndicate by the president of the Newburyport and Amesbury Railway bought the Peoples Horseline Railray and and completey rebuilt the lines to electrify the route. Double vestibuled cars made by the Newburyport Car Co. were used on this line. He sold it to the the Lowell, Lawrence and Haverhill in 1898 and these two companies were merged using the parent company's name. By this time, the entire route from Newburyport to Lowell had electric cars.

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1897 Newburyport Car at West Newbury Town Hall

Hampton and Amesbury

In 1898, permission was granted to extend the his line into Seabrook and connect it to the Haverhill and Amesbury Railway. By doing this, one could travel from Boston to Hampton Beach by trolley. Construction was completed in 1899 and Hampton and Amesbury Railway Co. was charted in 1899.

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Hampton and Amesbury car at Smith's Station, Seabrook, NH
In 1899, it became a part of the Exeter, Hampton   and Amesbury Railway

Exeter, Hampton, & Amesbury Railway

Wallace Lovell, owner of the Hampton and Exter Railway that had lines to his Casino on Hampton Beach, wanted to increase patronage at his casino. At his time, most of the wealthly people spent their vacations in the posh hotels and resorts in the north country. He reasoned that if he built a line to Amesbury that had thousands of low income families, they would gladly pay ten cents to get to the beach and the casino.

The railroad company began operation with five open and five closed 10-bench cars, all built by the Briggs Carriage Company. Amesbury was the hub for all of the trolley lines that went to Hampton Beach. This included the towns of Haverhill and Newburyport.

While the construction was being done, the state gave the Exeter and Hampton Company rights to extend the line to Hampton Beach Casino and to Hampton River. In 1899, all of the various lines were combined into the Exeter, Hampton, and Amesbury Street Railway. A new plan was to build his Amesbury line from Seabrook over the Salisbury Plains and into Market Square, Amesbury. All of this was completed by the middle of 1900.

The starting point was on Front Street in Exeter and would make a loop around the city and then went to Hampton and finally stopped at the casino in Hampton Beach. A line was built at the casino, south to the Hampton River and north to Boar's Head Point. At Hampton was a connection to Amesbury down RT. 1 through Smithtown in Seabrook. It turned West at the New Hampshire border and by way of Main Street in Salisbury and over the plains to Congress Street and down to Clinton Street. Here, It went North to Market Street, passing the carhouse and power station just north of the Back River, about where the R.and G. Mfg. is now located, and turned left on Market Street  to Market Square.  Here connections could be made with the Citizens Railway to Merrimac, Haverhill, and on to Canobie Lake in New Hampshire. A connection could be made at Smtithtown with the Newburport Railway to Market Square in Newburyport.

The Exeter, Hampton,& Amebury Railway now included 26.216 miles of track from Exeter to Hampton Beach and from Whittier's to Smithtown and on to Market Square in Amesbury. Since most of the line carried half-hourly traffic during the summer, the company ordered 15 new cars from Briggs to meet its passenger commitments. By the end of 1900, thec ompany had seven 20-foot closed cars, one Duplex convertible, 13 10-bench open cars, eight 14-bench open cars, a combination mail and baggage car, a freight car, four snowplows, and a number of work cars.

Evidently this did not set well with the Citizens Railway because it cut off revenue that it was getting from the passengers who had been traveling from Smithtown to Amesbury and beyond. A few years later, when the E. H. & A. wanted to use the Haverhill and Amesbury line to Haverhill it was not granted.

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Hampton Beach Casino, 1898


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Exeter, Hampton and Amesbury Railway Co. Powerhouse and Car Barn (garage) on Clinton Street
The water tower was for the sprinkler system in case of a fire. The water was pumped from a nearby pond.
. There are two Briggs Trolleys inside.
In case of a power outage in town, it could be supplied from here.

The substation addition constructed at the Amesbury carhouse in 1901 was a one story brick affair, 33 by 50 feet in area, with a concrete floor and a wood roof supported on steel trusses, and was located on the east side of the barn. Both the carhouse and substation addition became the property of the Massachusetts Northeastern in 1913 and the carhouse was in regular use until 1923, the substation remaining in operation till 1930.

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The original car house on Clinton St. with cars built by Briggs Car Co. A power staation was built a little later

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1900 Newburyport Car Co. mail truck, Herbert Pierson, conductor, is at the left, and Nicholas Walsh, motorman, at right

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Heading up Front Street toward the Exeter depot is one of the big Briggs 1900 14-bench opens.

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Newly-delivered from the Briggs plant, No. 14 is shown outside the Hampton carhouse in 1899

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Briggs Duplex Car No. 20 at the Exeter Depot in 1899

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Briggs 14-bench open at Hampton Village


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Briggs Duplex Convertible No. 20 and two opens at Whitter's Junction at Hampton.

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Portable Auxiliary Power Station

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Briggs No. 8 entering  Market Square drom Market Street in 1900

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Briggs No 48 passing the town hall going to Lake Attitash district.

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Looking down Friend Street from Pond Street

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Market Square after 1900

The Exeter, Hampton, & Amesbury Railway prospered until about 1904 when curiosity of the rides to the beach waned and financial troubles set in. It went into receivership in 1907 and was sold at auction in 1908 for $250,000 to the protective committee. It struggled along until 1921 when it went out of business.


Haverhill and Amesbury Railway


Early in 1892, several Amesbury and Haverhill businessmen, including Charles Goss, L. J. Marston and W. G. Ellis, president of the Ellis Car Company of Amesbury, organized the Haverhill & Amesbury Street Railway Co. for the purpose of building an electric railway from Haverhill, through the thriving town of Merrimac to Amesbury, a distance of approximately 11 miles.


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Merrimac Car house in 1892 with on the No. 39 Newburyport 10-bench open, No. 38 Ellis 10-bench open , and No. 52 Newburyport
It was located on East Maine Street approximately where the Fire and Police Departments are now located.

The starting point was Monument Square in Haverhill down Washington St. and continued by Kenoza Lake to its headquarters in Merrimac. From there, it traveled down East Main Street and what is now Haverhill Road and on to Hillside Avenue to its destination at Sparhawk and Main Street. The Newburyport and Amesbury Rail Way owned the tracks to Market Square. Later, the city gave the H & A line permission to build another set of tracks to Market Square. Market Square was the hub of all the lines coming into Amesbury. From Amesbury, it went down Elm Sttreet to Salisbury Center. Later, permission was given to  have the line extended to Smithstown in Seabrook.

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Laying the Tracks Near Whittier's Birthplace

H. & A. built a line down Elm Street to the center of Salisbury Beach. With several small lines in the region having rails into Haverhill could now have passengers traveling to Salisbury Beach. Every person in New Hampshire and Massachusetts had to come through Amesbury to Southern NH. A passenger wanting to travel from Concord, NH to Portsmouth had an eight hour ride of 110 miles and his travel ran through Manchester, Derry, Pehalm, Salem, Methuen, Haverhill, Amesbury, Seabrook, Hampton, and finally to Portsmouth. Several articles were written in the railway trade journals from passengers describing their trips and how much they enjoyed them. The most praise was given the to trip from Haverhill to Amesbury and how beautiful was the scenery.

The first electric car over the Haverhill & Amesbury Street Railway ran from the Merrimac carhouse to Amesbury on Sept. 24, 1892. On Oct. 11 the line was completed to Monument Square, Haverhill, and in the evening of that day, officials of the town and invited guests rode from Haverhill to Amesbury. Regular service between Haverhill and Amesbury commenced on Oct 13th, and it is said that during the day, merchants of Haverhill paid the round trip fare of any Amesbury or Merrimac resident who came on the H. & A. to Haverhill to do his or her shopping.

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1892 Ellis Car 55 at Saunder's Hill, Merrimac


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8 Bench Ellis Open at Haverhill Post Office

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No. 59,  1892 10-bench Ellis open in downtown Amesbury

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1892 Newburyport Car Co. No. 61 across the street from the car house

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1892 No. 26 Newburyport 8-bench open at Monument Square, Haverhill

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Haverhill, Merimac, & Amesbury Combination Car for Salisbury and Salisbuty Beach, made by Briggs Car Co.

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Haverhill & Amesbury car at Salisbury Beach

The owners realized that their company was in trouble when in 1902, the Haverhill, Plaistow, and Newton Railroad Co. extended its line from Newton to Amesbury with bigger and better cars. This extension went from Newton down Amesbury Street passing Lake Attatish and arriving to Market Square via Lion's Mouth Road and Friend Street.

The Haverhill, Plaistow, and Newton cars were larger and more comfortable to ride and passengers much preferred this scenic route to Amesbury than the other way and this left the Haverhill & Amesbury almost riderless. No revenue was available for much needed repairs on their line and soon it became a derelict. In 1907, the MerrimacValley Electric Co. bought the line and in 1909, persuaded the stock holders to rebuild the line in its entirety with new rail lines and rolling stock. Ridership increased and was able to continue service. Even though it kept its original name, it was known as Eastern Route of the parent company. In 1913, it was absorbed by the Massachusetts Northern Street Railway and stayed in business until 1921.

Haverhill, Plaistow, and Newton Railway Co.
A subsidiery
of the Exeter, Hampton, & Amesbury Railway Co.

In 1901 The Hampton to Amesbury extended its lines to the Newton NH border on Kimbell Rd. Because of a conflicting interest between the Citizens company who owned the Haverhill, Georgetown, and West Newbury Railway and and a Haverhill to Amesbury existed, the only way he could get from Haverhill to Hampton was to build a new railway. Thus. the Haverhill, Plaistow, and Newton Rail was built. Louvell owned the casino at Canobe Lake and the casino at Hampton Beach. His original plans for his system was to convey passengers to these casinos. At his time, he owned the lines, Exeter, Hampton, & Amesbury and the railways from Canobie Lake extended into Haverhill. The Haverhill, Plaistow, & Newton Rail Way Co. was the finishing link.

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A group of school teachers has just gotten off No. 73 at the Friend's Meeting House

The route had trackage rights from Monument Square, Haverhill up Primrose St., by way Dustin Square that turned left on Main St. to North Street. North Street was the begining of line It continued on to Plaistow Center over Sweets Hill and turned left at South Main St. in Newton. From there it continued on to Rowes Corner where a private road was built to Amesbury Road. At the New Hampshire border, Amesbury Road continues as Kimball Road down to Tuxbury Square, the junction of Kimball and Lions Mouth Road. A private road was made going by Tuxbury Pond to Newton Road in South Hampton, NH, This junction is named "Rings Corner" Newton Road goes East to Lions Mouth Road. From here, it had trackage with the Hampton and Amesbury Railway to Market Square.

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Crews laying track on Amesbury Rd. Newton


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The car house at Plaistow was constructed in 1902


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No 155 at Tuxbury Pond, Amesbury


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No. 63 Briggs at the Lake   Attitash Bowling Aley on Kimball Road


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Rounding the curve from Sweet Hil to Elm St. approaching the car house


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The 1902 Laconia open at the Plaistow station


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This Laconia 14 Bench open is on Main St. Newton headed for Amesbury


Trolley Car Makers

Newburyport Car Co.

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1890 Advertisement

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1890 Advertisement


Newburyport Car at Market Square

Copied from the 1888 Issue of the Street Railway Revue Magazine

Newburyport Car Manufacturing Co. are receiving orders daily. Their new shop is nearly ready. They have some 75 open and close cars in different stages of construction, and they expect to finish 65 before June 1. Among these are two large cars, 70 passengers, 8 wheels, for the new road at Gloucester, Mass. This company intend to increase their plant as fast as possible, so that they may be able to keep a stock of standard open and closed cars on hand for immediate delivery. They have used the Bemis gear on all the cars they have built.

Copied from the 1888 Issue of the Street Railway Revue Magazine

A little more than two years ago Messrs. Evans & Patriquin started the business of manufacturing street cars at Newburyport, Mass. Recently the company has been reorganized, with Mr. E. P. Shaw as president, while Mr. Evans remains as superintendent of the works. The buildings are comparatively new, of wood, two stories high, and arranged in an irregular manner under a bluff upon which the street runs, and you enter the office on the second story over a foot-bridge from the street. The main or setting-up shop is 116 x 62 feet, the paint shop 80x64 feet, and the machine shop 50x70 feet. Other buildings and sheds are used for storing cars and material. The shops are equipped with a creditable number of wood working machines, and there are transfer tables and other appliances common in this class of shop. Portable incandescent electric lights are provided for use on dark days, and for night work. These are so arranged that they can be placed inside the car, or in any position the workmen may desire. The business has outgrown its present quarters and new buildings will soon be erected. The Grinnel system of automatic sprinklers will also be put in.

Among the orders now being filled are seventeen cars for the West End Co., of Boston; four cars for Plymouth and four cars for the Thomson-Houston Electric Co. We noted that in the cars now being made for the West End Co. strips of wood running lengthwise of the car, about three-fourths of an inch wide and one-half inch thick, placed one-half inch apart, were screwed to the floor above an oil cloth lining. These strips are intended to take the place of the matting used on most street cars. The panels at the end of the seat on the open cars are made with a cast iron border, with a groove on the inner surface into which the thin wood of the panel is inserted. The cushions for the seats are filled with elastic felt, a preparation of cotton, and are known as the Ostermon cushion. The firm buy the blinds for their cars from the Briggs & Allyn Manufacturing Co., of Lawrence, Mass. Seventy-five men are employed in the works.

The business of building street cars is usually the outgrowth of coach or carriage building, but the employes of this firm are men who were formerly employed by the ship builders of Newburyport for doing the cabin work and other nice jobs incident to ship building. On account of the decline in ship building at the East these men have gravitated into car building, and make the very best of mechanics for this class of work.

An Annual Meeting Held.

The Massachusetts Street Railway Association held its annual meeting on Wednesday, September 4. This association is in the habit, as we have before stated in these columns, of holding monthly meetings, the attendance at which is confined to the members, with occasionally such friends as they may wish to invite, and at which a lunch is served and a degree of social intercourse is reached, through the frequent recurrence of the meetings, which would be unattainable otherwise. The representatives of the Journal, received an invitation to attend this meeting, but were reluctantly compelled by the pressure of business requiring attention at home to forego the pleasure. Instead of the usual place of meeting, the members assembled at Newburyport, Mass., and on the arrival of the ten o'clock train from Boston, took the steamer "E. P. Shaw" for a sail on the Merrimack River to Plum Island, where dinner was had at two P. M. Immediately following the dinner an election of officers for the ensuing year took place,at which Mr. Chas. Odell, of Salem, was elected president, and Mr. Jas. H. Eaton, of Lawrence, secretary

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The first double truck built for the Manchester Street Railway, Manchester, NH, was this 15-bench type made by the Newburyport Mfg. Co in 1899

The Newburyport Car Mfg. Co. would seem to be enjoying a liberal patronage, if we may judge from the number of cars which they have lately shipped. Among these may be mentioned the following: Two to the Middletown Horse Railroad, Middletown, Ct.; ten to the Boston & Revere Electric Railway; twelve to the Lowell & Dracut Street Railway; seventeen (with five more to follow) to the West End Street Railway, of Boston; three to the Manchester Horse Railroad, Manchester, N. H.; four to the Newport, R. I., Electric Railway; five to Black Rock & Salisbury Beach Railway; six to the Hartford & Wethersfield Horse Railroad Co., Hartford, Ct.; two to the Springfield, Mass., Street Railway; four to the Naumkeag Street Railway, Salem, Mass.; four to Marlboro (Mass.) Street Railway; five to Plymouth & Kingston (Mass.) Street Railway; one to the Gloucester (Mass.) Street Railway; two to the Hoosac Valley Street Railway, North Adams, Mass.; four to the Bangor (Me.) Street Railway, and four to the Lynn (Mass.) Belt Line. In the important factor of space the Newburyport Co. are certainly well equipped. They have some 500 ft. front on the main street of the town, and probably 1,000 ft. of depth, within a short distance of the railroad, and having a large frontage on the water. Their shops were fully described in the June number of the Journal.

Below are photos of cars and companies from the above article

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25 foot Bench Closed, No. 22
Georgetown, Rowley, and Ipswich Railway



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13-bench   closed, No. 15
Georgetown, Rowley, and Ipswich Railway


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Drawbridge on Cambridge Division, Wst End R.R. Boston, MA


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Bangor Street Railway, Bangor ME

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Cars on Plymout & Kingston Electric Line


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State Street  From Market Square, Newburyport


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Brighton - Bolyston St. & West Chester Park

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Lowell and Concord Rail Way, 7-Bench open


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Fitchburg & Leominster Car loaded for shipment

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12-Bench Boston & Northern St. Rail Way car at Beverly


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13-Bench Open for Brockton, Bridgewater, & Taunton Street Railway Co.

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Sommerville Railway Co., Sommerville, MA
Union Square & East Cambridge Car

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Worcester Rail Way Co. car ready for shipment


Ellis Car Co.

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Two examples of Ellis snow plows

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1890 12-Bench Closed body built for the Lansing, MI Railway Co.

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1892 Detroit Motor Car with an Ellis body on a steep grade in Lawnrence, MA.


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Ellis Street Car No. 34 Crossing the Chain Bridge in 1893

Briggs Car Co.

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In 1890, Briggs Carriage company began to manufacture street car bodies and began to solicit orders from street railways. The  first order received by Briggs was for four 8-bench open cars shown in the advertisement below, Nos. 26-29, from the Manchester Street Railway, which had a horse drawn railway. Manchester electrified its railways in 1895.

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Electric Freight Car for the Rockland, Thomaston & Camden Street Railway

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!894 Freight Locomotive with body by Briggs

Once Briggs advertisements started appearing in trade publications, orders began to pour in and in June 1891 the Street Railway Journal reported that the company was very busy and that its factory showed signs of great activity. Among cars shipped in 1891 were one 16-foot closed car and six 8-bench opens to the East Side Street Railway of Brockton; one 18-foot closed car to the Thomson-Houston Electric Company for operation in Whitinsville, Mass, four closed and 11 eight-bench opens to the Allentown & Bethlehem Rapid Transit Company in Pennsylvania; five 16-foot closed and four 8-bench opens to the Brockton Street Railway and one 9-bench open car to the Waterville & Fairfield Railway & Light Company in Maine.

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Allentown & Bethleham Rapid Transit Line, 1891 8-Bench Open with a construction crew


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Allentown & Bethleham Rapid Transit Line Car No. 1, 1891 8 Bench Open


Closed Car For Brockton, MA Street Railway

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Rockland, Thomaston, and Camden Street Railway, Rockland, ME


Received in 1891 was an order for the initial rolling stock of the Rockland, Thomaston & Camden Street Railway in Maine's Knox County. This consisted of three 20-foot closed cars and six 10 bench opens which were shipped in 1892. Ten more open cars were shipped to Allentown that year; two open cars each were built for the Cottage City Street Railway of Martha's Vineyard and the Winnipeg Electric Street Railway of Manitoba. Canada and four 10-bench opens went to the Natick (Mass.) Electric Street Railway. Ten 16-foot closed cars were constructed for the Interstate Street Railway of Providence, R. I. and other shipments included five closed cars for the Montreal Street Railway, one 8-bench open to the Marlboro Street Railway, one 18-foot closed car to the Augusta, Hallowell & Gardiner Railroad; two 18-foot closed cars to the Mousam River Railroad of Sanford, Me. a double truck freight car to the Thomson-Houston Electric Company for the Rockland, Thomaston & Camden, two closed cars for the Norwich Street Railway and seven closed cars to the firm of Shaw & Ferguson.

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Norwich Street Railway Co, Norwich, CT, 1893 closed car

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1893 Mousam River Freight cars


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Mousam River Railroad, Sanford to Springvale, ME, 1893 14-bench closed car


Among cars shipped in 1893 were a 20-foot closed combination passenger-baggage car and three more closed cars and four opens to the Rockland, Thomaston & Camden; a 20-foot closed car to the Waterville & Fairfield Railway & Light Company; four 10-bench opens to the Concord Street Railway in New Hampshire; six 8-bench open cars to the Aurora (Ill.) Street Railway; six 18-foot closed cars to the New London Street Railway and three 18-foot closed and three 10-bench open cars to the Norwalk (Conn.) Tramway. Also known to have been produced in 1893 were four 10-bench opens for the Plymouth & Kingston Street Railway and a 20-foot closed combination passenger-baggage car for the Haverhill & Amesbury Street Railway.


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Crowd gathered at Bank Corner in Calais for the first day of operation of the Calais Street Railway in 1894
10 Bench Open s

Little information is available about Briggs shipments in 1894 but among them were another 20-foot closed car for the Waterville & Fairfield and four 10 bench open cars for the Calais (Maine) Street Railway. Produced in 1895 were one 20-foot closed car and two 10-bench opens for the Norway & Paris Street Railway in Maine's Oxford County and four 13-bench open, two 14-bench open and sixteen 20-foot closed cars for the Brockton Street Railway. Deliveries in 1896 included two 20-foot closed cars, a 20-foot combination passenger-baggage car, four 10-bench opens and a double truck box freight car to the Somerset Traction Company of Skowhegan; two 10-bench opens to the Biddeford & Saco Railroad and one 20-foot closed and two 10-bench opens to the Brunswick Electric Railroad, all Maine properties, and three 20-foot closed cars to the Chester & Derry Railroad in New Hampshire. Two 20-foot 2-inch closed car bodies. Nos. 50 and 84, went to the Union Street Rail way of New Bedford in 1897.

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1894 Norway and Paris 10-Bench Open

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1894 Somerset Traction Company 10-Bench Open

The combination passenger-baggage cars produced for the Rockland, Thomaston & Camden and Haverhill & Amesbury Street Railways and the Somerset Traction Company were essentially identical except for roof type. The body of each was divided by a bulkhead into a passenger compartment, which had two longitudinal seats, and the baggage section, which had a large sliding door on each side. All three initially had open platforms at the ends.

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Waterville, Fairfield & Light Traction Co


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The RT&C car was conveyed about 1900 to the Norway & Paris Street Railway, which sold it a year later to the Augusta, Hallowell & Gardiner Railroad. It subsequently became the property of the AH&G's successor, the Augusta, Winthrop & Gardiner Street Railway, and was destroyed by fire in Augusta in 1907. The H&A car is known to have been retired prior to 1909 but the fate of the Somerset Traction car is not recorded.

Developed by Briggs about 1895 was an attractive new design of 20-foot vestibuled closed car. The first versions featured a rectangular monitor roof with a gracefully curved top, convex-concave panel sides, seven drop-sash windows on each side, a single sliding door in each body end bulkhead and vestibules with three drop-sash windows at the ends and either a single-leaf swinging door or a two-leaf folding door on each side. There was a single fixed step at each door. Some of the cars had two longitudinal seats while others had 10 reversible transverse and four short longitudinal seats, the seating capacity for either arrangement being 28. The interiors were heated and lighted by electricity and pictures show that many had incandescent electric headlights permanently mounted on the dashers.

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At Badger's Island, Kittery, ME, is this 7-sash Vestibule car for the Portsmouth, Kittery, and York Railway

Companies purchasing cars of this design included the Somerset Traction Company, the Norway & Paris Street Railway, the Waterville & Fairfield Railway & Light Company, the Benton & Fairfield Railway, the Portsmouth, Kittery & York Street Railway, the Lewiston & Auburn Horse Railroad, the Brunswick Electric Railroad and the Lewiston, Brunswick & Bath Street Railway in Maine, the Exeter Street Railway in New Hampshire, the Chester & Derry Railroad, plus the Amesbury & Hampton, the Norton & Taunton and the Plymouth & Sandwich Street Railways in Massachusetts. The LB&B, A&H and P&S cars had steam coach instead of monitor roofs. A 25-foot double truck model was also available and at least one was purchased by the Norton & Taunton.

Try as it might, Briggs was unable to obtain any orders from either the West End Street Railway or the Boston Elevated Railway, possibly because its bid prices were higher than those of other builders. In a move to demonstrate to the Elevated the high quality of its products, two sample 25-foot vestibule closed cars were shipped to Boston about 1899 for tests on the surface lines of the B & R Railroad. Whether they actually were purchased by the them is uncertain, but the two bodies were sold in November 1900 to the Waterville & Fairfield Railway & Light Company for $2,759. They became W & F Nos13 and 14; were revamped for one-man operation by the Waterville, Fairfield & Oakland in Railway in 1922 and were retired nine years later.

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Picnic Day at Sanford, ME, using the Mousam River Railway cars

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Oakland and Fairfield Railway

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Manchester, NH

Briggs may not have scored in Boston but two of the largest orders ever received by the company came in 1899 from two properties later absorbed by the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Rapid Transit Company. They built for the Brooklyn City Railroad 25 open cars of the 13-bench type, eventually BRT Nos. 675-699, while produced for the Nassau Electric Railroad were fifty 13-bench opens (later BRT 850899) and 25 double truck closed cars with eight windows on each side, which be came BRT 2175-2199. All were of Brooklyn rather than Briggs design and some of the opens lasted until 1934, the closed cars being retired during the 1930-33 period.

The American Street Railway’s manual of 1900 reported that among other owners of Briggs cars were the Amherst & Sunderland Street Railway in Massachusetts, the Dunkirk & Fredonia Railroad of New York, the Stamford Street Railroad in Connecticut. There may well have been more but, in many cases, the manual listed only quantities of cars owned and gave no further details.

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New Haven, CT

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New Haven, CT

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No 1628 Brighton and Bolyston Duplex


During most horse car era street railways generally operated open cars during the summer and closed cars in the fall, winter and spring but after tamed lightning succeeded hay burners as motive power, many companies found it very expensive to own and maintain rolling stock designed only for seasonal use. At an early date streetcar designers began developing cars which could be converted from closed to open (and vice versa) as the weather dictated and in 1896 the fledgling Duplex Car Co. of New York City obtained patents for a type of fully-convertible trolley. The car had curved sliding panels of a type similar to those found on a roll-top desk and each panel, which had a curved plate glass window near its top, could be pushed upward into a roof recess when it was desired to convert the car from closed to open. A single running board was provided on each side. While the earliest cars had open platforms, it was not long before vestibule types were produced and these usually had a single fixed step at each vestibule door. Due to their unique shape, they were commonly referred to as "barrel cars."

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Waterville, Fairfield & Traction Co. Duplex Car

Because the Duplex Car Company (which maintained a Boston office for a time) had no plant of its own, it arranged for them to be produced by different builders, including the Jackson & Sharp Company of Wilmington, Del. and the Briggs Carriage Company, both being permitted to use their own roof and vestibule designs. What may have been the first Duplex car ever built was demonstrated in Concord, N.H. in December 1896 and a December 27 newspaper story about the trials was illustrated by a crude drawing which showed that it eight panels on each side, open end platforms, transverse seats and double trucks. The car was purchased about 1898 by the Concord Street Railway, on which it became No. 29, and it was in regular use until the tracks of the Concord system were rebuilt and widened from three-foot to standard gauge in 1903. The car had vestibules in its last years of operation and a picture suggests that these vestibules were of Briggs manufacture.

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Duplex Advertisement

Duplex cars were available in both single truck and double truck versions. Briggs is known to have produced single truck cars for the West Roxbury & Roslindale Street Railway in Massachusetts and the Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury Street Railway. Both had 21 ft. 8 in. bodies, measured 32 ft I in. long overall and 8 ft. 8 in. wide. Each had nine panels on each side and 16 reversible transverse seats accommodating 32 riders. The Somerset Traction Company and the Templeton (Mass.) Street Railway each owned one double truck car and the Dover, Somersworth & Rochester Street Railway of New Hampshire and the Bellows Falls & Saxtons River Street Railway of Vermont each owned two. Four were acquired by the Waterville & Oakland Street Railway of Maine and while the builder of eight owned by the Honolulu (Hawaii) Rapid Transit & Land Company is uncertain, all had some distinctive Briggs characteristics. Another was purchased by the Nelson (British Columbia) Electric Tramway Company.

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1899 Duplex Car, single truck, Exeter, Hampton, & Amesbury Rail Way

There was one major trouble with Duplex cars (at least in New England) and that was the tendency of their side panels to become distorted and stick in wet or damp weather, making it virtually impossible to lower them on a rainy day .or raise them when sunny skies returned. As early as 1911 the DS&R removed the running boards on its two cars and made the sliding panels fast so they could not be moved. Somerset Traction riveted steel plates to the sides of the car to eliminate the convertible feature. Insulation was provided so the car could easily be heated in winter.

The West Roxbury & Roslindale car subsequently became the property of the Old Colony Street Railway and its 1911 successor, the Bay State Street Railway, and was scrapped in 1919. That on the Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury still was on the property when rail service ended in 1926. The Dover, Somersworth & Rochester was motorized in 1926 and the Somerset Traction Company was abandoned two years later. The Templeton Street Railway car became the property of the Northern Massachusetts Street Railway in 1913 and some of its body parts are preserved at the Seashore Trolley Museum. As for the eight Honolulu cars, their monitor roofs were removed about 1920 and about 1926 the sliding panels and windows and the running boards were removed and the sides were enclosed with heavy wire screening. All were scrapped in 1934.


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City of Manchester

Produced by Briggs for the Manchester Street Railway in later years were eight 16-foot closed horsecars, Nos. 30 37, in 1891-92; two 10-bench open horsecars, Nos. 38 and 39, in 1893 and seven 10-bench open electric cars, Nos. 76-82, and a luxurious parlor car, the City of Manchester, in 1897.

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1899 Briggs Open Car

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Briggs Duplex Car

Delivered to the LB&B at Bath, the car made its first trip from the Shipbuilding City to Lewiston on May 13, 1899 and carried a party of company officials and invited guests. The Lewiston Evening Journal of that day said passengers reported that the car "ran like a boat, without a jar and with a bird-like velocity." Like the City of Manchester, it was available for charter by private parties and one of these was aboard on July 10, 1900 when the Merrymeeting ran away on Main Street, Lewiston, after its brakes failed. As it moved downgrade, its speed steadily increased and when it hit a switch at the north end of the North Bridge across the Androscoggin River, it split the switch and continued broadside across the span to Court Street, Auburn, where it finally halted. There were no injuries to any of the passengers and no collisions with other vehicles and once the brakes had .been repaired at the LB & B's Lewiston car house, the special party continued to its destination.

By the end of the 19th Century, the carriage business was beginning to decline and in 1900 the Briggs Carriage Company started building bodies for the Locomobile Company of Bridgeport, Conn., which had begun producing steam propelled automobiles in 1899. After a strike beginning on January 1, 1903 and lasting three months, Briggs officials formally decided to halt streetcar production (they had no orders anyway) and to concentrate on automobile bodies and horse-drawn wagons.

This concludes of all the information that I was able to find about street cars and street car railways that were pertinent to the city of Amesbury. If any of this material is useful to your research, please feel free to use it.

Royal Feltner
72 Haverhill Rd.
Amesbury, MA 0913
28 March 2011

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