Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Townspeople

November 8, 2012

Dalton column: First train to Andover cheered wildly

Most of Andover turned out on June 6, 1835, and wildly cheered the arrival of the first train to come to town.

Three years earlier, Andover resident Hobart Clarke had decided Andover would benefit from having a railroad after watching one near his brother’s home in Utica, N.Y.

Arguably, the first engine-powered train was one owned by the Mohawk & Hudson Company’s line running from Albany to Schenectady, N.Y., in 1826. This railway was probably the one that Clarke watched in 1832, although steam-powered trains were an invention whose time had come and soon were popping up like giant puffing bugs scuttling over the landscape. The original engine-powered trains were built for runs of a few miles, and although there may have been planners theorizing about long-run railway lines, the early train runs became longer and longer because people like Hobart Clarke pictured them benefitting towns like Andover and connecting them to other railways with short runs.

When Clarke returned to Andover, he put together a group of potential investors in 1833, and they held a public meeting at Locke Tavern in a building still standing on the corner of Main and Locke streets.

It was voted to petition the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the right to build a railway line to Wilmington, where a line was already being built from Wilmington to meet the Boston & Lowell Railroad. The Commonwealth granted the petition later in 1833. The original investors formed a company shortly after. They were Clarke, Abraham Marland, Amos Abbot, John Smith, and Amos Pettingill, all of whom served as directors of the company. One thousand shares of stock were issued at $100 each, and there may have been other smaller investors.

Work was finished in 1836, and the railroad company and line was pragmatically called the Andover & Wilmington Railroad.

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