Memories of Train Travel and Prospects for New Service in Greenfield

I remember back when I used to sell newspaper ads; the place where all of the incentives were was in selling those special sections. We’d have car care, and home improvement, and Letters to Santa and a whole lot more. I made up one that survives in the Gazette to this day, it was called Kitchens and Baths.

I rarely read these but I must say that today’s special section in the Recorder, called In Business Since was a fascinating read. It was about the olden days of railroads in Franklin County, and had lots of photos and quotes from old timers and historians about the days when people could take a train to Northampton or a tram down to Deerfeld.

One funny thing was that the stories repeated a few facts, as if the editors hadn’t read all of the copy and missed that they had already said that.  One of these twice-stated facts was that a railroad station that served two railroad companies was called a Union Station.  Another was that when a new street was needed to connect Greenfield with their new railroad station, an old village burial ground had to be moved. So between 1803 and 1883, many of the corpses were dug up and reburied in two other town cemeteries.

When trains would come into Greenfield, passengers were told that they would have 20 minutes to obtain refreshments.  There was a restaurant with a ten-gallon coffee urn run by the W.E. Wood System where people could dine. Lots of locals from Greenfield would also eat at the restaurant. The flyer noted that ‘passengers cannot get left, as due notice will be given before departure of the train.’

Irmarie Jones, the oldest continuous contributor to the Recorder, added her own memories, of taking the train from Greenfield down to Massachusetts State College, now called UMass, in Amherst. She returned home to Leominster on vacations. First she would take the Pocumtuck Stage, a Deerfield-based bus company, that would take her from Amherst to Greenfield. Then she’d race down the stairs on Bank Row to get on the train.

Tim Blagg, the paper’s editor, added his own modern addition to this collection of history.  It was about the high-speed rail money that is helping to pay for the large new bus and train station being built in Greenfield. With the federal money, tracks are being upgraded so people will actually be able to travel down through Connecticut to New York City in just a few years.

Now that’s progress!