City of Holyoke’s Railroad, Part II

by Laurel | March 6th, 2014

05 March 1905

Old Train Station on Main Street

Old Train Station on Main Street
Holyoke, Mass.

History of Road From the Records

A fairly good history of the road is to be made out from the records on file at the city hall. The very first beginnings are forgotten. it is certain that with the completion of the railroad to Northampton by way of Westfield from New Haven, the idea of a new line from Holyoke to tidewater began to assert itself. Holyoke was young, its leading men were young and ambitious and took up eagerly the new idea. When the beginnings were thought out progress was rapid. At a special meeting of the town held August 22, 1870, the following article appeared in the town warrant —

Article 2: To see if the town will subscribe for share in the capital stock of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad company to an amount to be fixed by said town, not exceeding three per cent of the assessed valuation of the town and to see what course the town will take to provide for the payment of the same.

P. Underwood was elected moderator at this meeting, the selectmen that year being Allan Higgenbottom, C. A. Corser and W. A. Judd. The vote passed relative to this article was as follows:

Voted that the town of Holyoke subscribe for 1665 shares in the capital stock of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad company and pay therefor subscription being an amount not exceeding three per cent of the assessed valuation of the town for the current year, and that the treasurer of the town be authorized and directed to subscribe for said stock in the name of the inhabitants of the town of Holyoke and to raise money to pay for the same by loan and bonds of the town to the aforesaid amount, said bonds to be of a form approved by the selectmen and to be issued of the several denominations of $100, $500 and $1000 in such proportions as the selectmen may direct the same to be signed by the treasurer of the town and countersigned by the chairman of the selectmen, and made payable in current funds, to bearer, on the first day of October, 1890, at the office of the town or city of Holyoke, with interest semiannually at the rate of seven per cent per annum.

Voted that there shall be five agents of the town to be chosen by ballot to represent the town at any meeting of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad company under the provisions of Section 7 of Chapter 379 of the acts of the Legislature of Massachusetts for the year 1869, said agents to act without compensation and to vote at any meeting of said railroad company by their chairman, as a majority of said agents shall decide.

The meeting then elected as the five agents Edwin Chase, William Whiting, James H. Newton, W.B.C. Pearsons and C. A. Corser, and proceeded to take up the weightier matter of a town seal. It is of high interest to find that President W. S. Loomis of the Holyoke Street Railway Company was town clerk at this time.

The first report of this board of agents is as follows:

At a special meeting of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad corporation held December 17, 1870, it was voted by the stockholders, this board concurring, to enter into a contract with the New haven and Northampton railroad company for the building of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad for the sum of $275,000, including passenger, freight and engine-houses, turntables and side tracks. It is the opinion of this board that the contract has been faithfully carried out by both parties thereto, and that the 10 1/3 miles of railroad of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad company have been built in a substantial manner and well equipped for the business of the road, and that the contractors have expended a large amount of money upon this work in excess of the contract price. This board has also concurred in a lease to the New Haven and Northampton railroad company, dated December 3, 1870, according to the terms of which lease one-half of the gross receipts of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad are credited to said railroad company; and these are computed on the basis of giving to the Holyoke and Westfield railroad company one-fifth of the gross earnings of the whole distance of 72 miles of track from Holyoke to New Haven; although according to the length of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad the said road would be entitles to only one-seventh of the said gross earnings.

Other railroads in the commonwealth, so far as ascertained, are leased at an annual rental of about 30 per cent of the gross earnings, and we consider the terms of the lease both in the percentage of gross receipts reserved and upon the basis upon which said gross receipts are reckoned, as being highly favorable to the stockholders of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad company and the town. The amount of earnings credited to the road for the month of November 1871, including a few days in October  previous were $1400.60. the amount for the next month of December was $1961,33, The receipts for January last are about $2648 and it is confidently expected that the receipts the first year sill average at least $3300 per month, or $40,000 for the year. This amount gives to the net credit of the road the sum of $20,000 per year. Deducting $14,000 for the payment of the interest upon the $200,000 bonded debt of the road, leaves a balance of $6000 to be applied in paying a dividend upon the capital stock of the road, or 3 per cent for the first year, a result gratifying to the friends of the road and the taxpayers of the town. The money saved to the inhabitants of the town on coal alone amounts to the round sum of $15,000 per year on the low estimate of $50,000 tons of coal at the present reduction already made in the freight charge.  The saving to the town on all kinds of other merchandise is, at a moderate estimate, at least $35,000 more, making a total savings to the town of at least $50,000 per annum, on account of the reduction already made in the freight charges. Allowing a rate of increase of dividend of only 1 per cent per year, and within four years the capital stock of the road will receive a 7 per cent annual dividend. Which last statements remind the casual reader of the boy who being asked how many fish he had caught, said that after he had caught the one he was after and three more he would have four.

The July following this report it was voted by the stockholders of the road, with the unanimous concurrence of the board of agents, that the directors be authorized to increase the capital stock of the corporation by an amount not exceeding $60,000, if in their judgement it should be expedient, and to issue bonds for any portion of such increase. this branch track which crossed a large amount of land of the Holyoke Water Power Company, necessitated the payment of land damages; and a committee consisting of William Whiting, Timothy Merrick and Jared Beede was appointed who arranged these matters satisfactorily after a long negotiation that incidentally necessitated a resurvey of part of the branch track. This branch track is that line which leaves the main Holyoke and Westfield line at a point not far from the Germania Mills and crosses Main Street by an overhead bridge and follows the lower-level canals to the Valley Paper Mill. At a special meeting of the boar held February 18, 1873, it was voted to petition the General Court to allow the town to vote to hold additional shares of stock; and to pay for such stock from its treasury or by loan upon bonds, or otherwise provide all moneys required to pay for the same. the course of this branch track and the fine facilities if affords the mills of the lower levels is pictured by the portion of the map of Holyoke shown in the engraving.

Adapted From The Springfield Republican.




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