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THE FIRST RAILROAD IN AMERICA
Compliments of the Granite City
B.P.O.E.—Quincy Lodge No. 943—1924

The first Railroad constructed in the United States was built in Quincy, Mass., in 1826. This was the famed "Granite Railway" so called then and now. It ran from the Quarries in the western part of the Town to the tidewater at the Neponset River, a distance of about three miles.

After many delays, and much obstruction, on March 4, 1826, a Bill was passed by the Legislature of the State (by only a small majority) granting a Charter for the construction of this railroad.

Ground was broken for the same, April 1, 1826, and on October 7, of the same year, the first car passed over its entire length.

Stone sleepers (many of which can still be seen) were laid, about eight feet apart, on top of which wooden rails were placed, which in turn were topped with iron plates, 3 inches wide, and ¼ inch thick, fastened with spikes.

The gauge of track was 5 ft.

Horse power, rather than steam was used, so in reality what was at that time called the first Railroad, was what might have been termed an improved tramway.

The cost of construction was under $50,000.

The man who planned and built this now famous "Granite Railway" was Mr. Gridley Bryant, who was born in Scituate, Mass., in 1798, and who died on June 13, 1867, in Scituate, Mass.

Quincy has since honored this man, by naming one of her schools after him.

Illustrations

Many interesting coincidences attach themselves to the construction of this Railroad, as, for instance, we find that:—
The First Contract ever entered into in this Country for hauling freight by rail was over this road. It called for the hauling of 3,000 tons of hewn stone to be used in the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument, at Charlestown, Mass., from the Quarries in West Quincy, to Tidewater at Neponset, at a rate of So cents per ton. This Contract was dated March 27, 1827.

Also, we find that on July 25, 1832, railroading in America claimed its first victim in the person of Mr. Thomas B. Achuas, of Cuba, who lost his life in the first fatal railroad accident in America. He was on a tour of inspection of this road, with three other gentlemen, one from Baltimore and two from Boston. The car in which they were riding was derailed and this resulted in the death of Mr. Achuas, and in serious injuries to the other three men.

We find in the "History of the Granite Industry of New England" by Arthur W. Braley, of Boston. Published in 1913:—
"Also that in March, 1847, the road was purchased from its first owners by certain parties and a new Company was Incorporated, with a capital of $300,000". If this statement is correct, here would have been the first manipulation of Railroad stock for promotion purposes, on record, in this Country.

Parts of this Railroad can still be seen, and part of its original roadbed is at the present time in use, by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Co., and also by the Granite Railway Company.


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This page originally appeared on Thomas Ehrenreich's Railroad Extra Website

 


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