Hello and a Happy Mother’s Day to all! This weekend let us take time to honor our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers, mentors, and other women who were role models for all of us.
Today we take a look at that neat village called Eastondale. Nestled between Washington Street and the Brockton and West Bridgewater town lines, the Eastondale neighborhood has always been a close-knit community. Many years ago, besides homes and farms, you would find within the neighborhood a store, post office, church, social clubs, trolley service, and a railroad depot and freight house among other things. Today Eastondale is gently filled with handsome homes and nicely landscaped vistas. The post office, trolley and train may be gone, but fortunately we have a terrific photo that preserves evidence of two modes of transportation that were important to the neighborhood, and Easton.
The photo below, taken around 1910-20 by local photographer Webster W. Bolton, captures the moment a trolley passed below the railroad bridge in Eastondale. That’s right, there was a railroad trestle over Turnpike Street and an underpass for the trolley! A little explanation is required for this.
While train service had been established through Easton following the end of the Civil War, there were few connectors between main lines. As the demand for freight grew, connecting lines called “spurs” were established. One of these was a line from the main track in Easton to South Easton, through Eastondale, and into the Matfield section of West Bridgewater. Sometimes called the “Shovel Handle” route, it crossed Pine Street, High Street and Turnpike Street on its way out of town. This spur appears to have been in use in the very early 1900’s.
Meanwhile, a new mode of transportation was quickly growing across America. Trolley cars began appearing in Easton in the late 1880’s, and by the turn of the 20th Century there were four trolley car companies operating lines in and around Easton. One of these, the Taunton and Brockton Street Railway Company, began a route from the trolley car barn at West and Belmont Streets in Brockton in 1897. The route ran west along Belmont Street, turned south onto Washington Street at Morse’s Corner, turned east onto Depot Street, and then turned south along Turnpike Street. The tracks ran parallel very near the edge of the road or sometimes in the roadway itself. Trolley service provided more flexibility in travel. With trolley companies merging lines and providing multiple connections, one could easily travel by trolley to practically anywhere. Soon trolleys began moving freight as well as passengers, and even provided mail service three times a day. The competition for business did not sit well with railroads. Railroads did not allow trolley tracks to cross their own tracks. This created an expensive dilemma for trolley companies, who either had to go over or under the railroad tracks. So, along quiet Turnpike Street, an underpass was dug and a bridge erected to allow both rail service and trolley service to co-exist ( the trolley. The photo here shows one of the “Ghost Line” cars (so called because the off-white color cars created a pallor) in the underpass with the railroad bridge above it. You are looking north towards Brockton, and between Hill and High Streets. The railroad spur was discontinued before 1930, and trolley service gave way to the automobile. By 1932, neither train nor trolley ran through Eastondale, and by the end of World War II all tracks and the bridge had been removed and the street leveled.
Today, there is barely any reminder of either the train or trolley traffic that once served a busy neighborhood. This photo was taken near 107 Turnpike Street, looking north towards High Street which would be in the distance on the left. On the right near the center of the photo is a newer street called Marisa Drive, and it is here that the underpass and railroad bridge once inhabited the area. All that remains is a slight dip in the road, just at the intersection of Turnpike Street and Marisa Drive, to remind us of what was once a very busy and industrious neighborhood.
Until next week, stay well!
Anne Wooster Drury