City of Holyoke’s Railroad, Part III

by Laurel | March 7th, 2014

05 March 1905

Map of Holyoke 1870

Map of Holyoke, 1870
Red lines indicate
Holyoke and Westfield Railroad Tracks
(Click through to see larger version)

The Much Discussed Lease of the Road

There has been much discussion over the leases and until that investigation was made it was supposed that the road was leased for 99 years instead of perpetually. The original lease itself is rather blindly written. it is said that Judge Buckland, who drew up the lease, said after he had finished “Gentlemen, here is the lease, if it is a lease.”

The first lease was drawn up December 3, 1870, before the actual building of the road, between the president of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad and the vice president of the New Haven and Northampton railroad company, Charles N. Yeamans being then vice-president of the New Haven Company and J. C. Pearsons president of the Westfield road. The lease provide that the Holyoke and Westfield Company “will and hereby does demise, lease and let all and singular the said railroad from its junction with the railroad of the New Haven and Northampton Company at Westfield to its termination on Front Street in Holyoke will all its branches, turnouts, rights of way, franchise station, grounds, lands, depot, buildings, engine-houses, water stations, etc. .. from the time of the completion and acceptances of the same thenceforth and forever.” The Holyoke and Westfield road also agrees to keep up its organization and to hold such meetings and pass such votes as will enable the leasing corporation to carry out all the objects of the agreement and enable it to enjoy the rights and privileges conveyed.

The New Haven and Northampton company further agreed after the road was opened to pay as rent for the same.

First. The interest of the $200,000 first mortgage bonds of said Holyoke and Westfield railroad company, dated April 1, 1871, at the rate of 7 per cent per annum, payable semiannually of the first days of October and April.

Second. If the annual gross receipts of the road shall exceed $28,000, payable semiannually at their office in New Haven, Ct., to the treasurer of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad company; provided that if the Holyoke and Westfield railroad company shall return and fully pay said $200,000, first mortgage bonds at maturity, then thereafter the New Haven and Northampton company shall pay semiannually at their said office to treasurer f the Holyoke and Westfield railroad company one-half of the gross receipts of said Holyoke and Westfield company to be ascertained as is hereafter provided. The New Haven and Northampton Company also agrees to pay the bonds or interest if the Holyoke and Westfield fails to do so.

Third. For the purpose of ascertaining the gross receipts of the Holyoke and Westfield company the New Haven and Northampton company shall establish reasonable and judicious rates for the transportation of passengers and merchandise over the Holyoke and Westfield railroad in connection with its own road, New York and Holyoke, provided that it shall not charge more than 30 cents for each passenger or 30 cents per ton for coal in cargo lots and 60 cents per ton for merchandise between new York or New Haven and Holyoke in advance of what is charged at the same time by the Hartford and New Haven company between New Haven and New York and Springfield; and provided, further, that the New Haven and Holyoke company shall not classify or estimate any article or kind of merchandise in its freight tariff at a higher class or estimate than the same article is classified o estimated by the Hartfrd and New Haven company at the same time in its freight tariff. And the New Haven and Northampton company shall credit to the gross earnings of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad company 20 per cent of the gross receipts on such passengers and merchandise so transported over its railroad and the Holyoke and Westfield railroad between New Haven and Holyoke.

The Fourth Section provides that on merchandise and passengers transported to and from other stations than New Haven on the main-line branches or any branches that may be constructed, the credit of gross receipts shall be directly proportionate to the mileage of such stations as compared with the mileage between Holyoke and New Haven. The fifth section provides the necessary accounts shall be kept by the New Haven and Northampton railroad and reported to the Holyoke and Westfield railroad in the months of April and October, and that the Hp;yoke and Westfield company shall have the right to examine all books and papers of the New Haven road to ascertain the correctness of the reported gross receipts. “In testimony whereof, concludes the document” said New Haven and Northampton company  by its vice president Charles N. Yeamans, thereto duly authorized, and the Holyoke and Westfield company, by J. C. Pearsons, its president, thereto duly authorized, have signed, sealed and ex3ecuted this instrument and a duplicate thereof — the day and year first above written.” The signing and sealing were done in the presence of William Whiting.

The second lease was executed between the same officials, May 4, 1878. It was a reaffirmation of the lease of 1870 and provided specifically that the branch railroads that is, sidetracks about the city about to be built, for which $60,000 more was raised, shall be included in the original amount of $300,000, and that in all ways the lease of 1870 shall apply to the completed road and branches. Instead of $28,000 for the gross receipts, $35,200 shall be the minimum sum under which the leasing road shall be bound to carry out its obligations in respect t o payment of 20 per cent of gross receipts to the city, as calculated in section 3 of the 1870 lease, also to reserve from the “on-half gross receipts” enough to pay the interest on the additional bonds. Provision is also made that there shall be no additional charge for the delivery of freight in car-load lots on the additional branch or sidetracks. This second agreement, or lease is sworn to before James E. Delaney, justice of the peace.

The following description of the road is from the official report of the railroad commissioners after its construction. Say the commissioners: “The Holyoke and Westfield railroad was chartered by chapter 379 of the Acts of 1869 to begin on Front Street in the town of Holyoke, thence passing through the towns of West Springfield and Westfield by way of “Bush’s Notch” to some convenient point in the town of Westfield on the New Haven and Northampton railroad.” It was build in 1870 and 1871, having been opened for public traffic November 28, 1871. It is 10½ miles long from the Westfield station of the New Haven and Northampton railroad in Holyoke. From Westfield it has an ascending grade of 65 feet to the miles for 3½ miles, then level for 1 3/4 miles over and across the mountain through Bush’s Notch , and then by descending grade into the Connecticut River valley into Holyoke. on the three miles next to Holyoke the descent is at the rate of 70 feet per mile. Notwithstanding the uneven character of the country over which the road passes, nine miles of the 10½ are of a straight line. The sharpest curves are of 955 feet radius. There are 13 highway crossings all of which are carried over or under the railroad by bridges at an expenditure of upward of $50,000 for bridges and the necessary changes of highway. The whole cost of the road for grading, masonry, superstructure and station buildings has been $600,000m and for land damages and station grounds $100,000. Considered as a specimen of engineering and thorough railroad construction in all its details, it is the best piece of work built within this sate for a long time, and highly creditable to those having it in charge. The distance from Holyoke to New Haven by this route is said to be 70.87 against 71 miles by the route by way of Springfield and Hartford, forming a formidable competing route from the thriving town of Holyoke to tide-water and New York.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.


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