The Granite Industry
The Granite industry was the most important business in Fitzwilliam for more than fifty years, and for a long time it was one of the three principal granite centers of the state. Before any quarries were opened, it had been found that large sheets of stone, which required no dressing except to free them at the sides and ends, could be taken from the surface of the hill south of Fitzwilliam Depot. They were freely utilized. The porch floor and the steps of the Meeting House of 1817, now the Town Hall, are made of these stones and a few of the old houses have them at their entrances.
The first quarries were opened in 1845 by Melvin Wilson, according to the town history. John Milne, of Aberdeen, Scotland, is said to have been the first stonecutter to come to town. The firms of the early days include the names of Angier, Dutton, Damon, and Forbush. In 1848 the opening of the Cheshire Railroad, providing adequate transportation, gave a great impetus to the industry. Quarries were opened in the Bull Run neighborhood off the Richmond Road, by Collins Pond, east of Fitzwilliam Depot and along the Royalston Road, in fact, almost anywhere anyone wanted to dig, they came before long upon the granite which underlies the town. The largest quarries were on the hill west of the Laurel Lake Road, first owned by Daniel Reed and in 1892 by George Daland Webb of Worcester, Mass. A spur of the railroad extended to these quarries, and at the peak of their activity, from 1915 to 1918, about 400 men were employed. A partial list of manufacturers during the years 1900-1923 would include J.C. Baldwin & Son, W.E. Blodgett, Decatur & Son, Emerson Troy Granite Co., Fasote Bros., E.M. Thompson, Perry Granite Co., Rozazza & Norza, Victoria White Granite Co., A.F. Wilson and Edward Yon.
- 8 hours a day's work, six days a week.
- Minimum wage for granite cutters, $2.00 a day.
- Minimum wage for hour, $.35.
- One hour allowed for dinner.
- Any cutter required to go from the shed to the quarries to cut stone shall be paid $.25 a day extra.
- Double pay on holidays, and no cutter allowed to work on Labor Day.
The Fitzwilliam granite was of very fine grain and even color, and is said to have had the lowest percentage of iron of any in New England, which made it free from any ultimate discoloration. It had the further advantage that the ledges where the most highly-valued stone was found were so favorably placed that it could be removed at comparatively little expense. Among the buildings in which it was used were the State Capitol, Albany, N.Y., the Public Library at Natick, Mass., the Union Depot and Court House in Worcester, Mass., the Union Station, Washington, D.C., Marshall Field's, Chicago, Ill., and the City Hall and Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ.
The coming of cement construction spelled the end of the granite era in Fitzwilliam.*
Cheshire RR - History
Beyond the Walls: recent discoveries in the extramural areas of Roman Chester
The Bold Lady Revisited: Lady Mary Cholmondeley and her impact on Jacobean Cheshire
A Randle Holme Memorial Board in the Parish Church of St Mary, Pulford
The Parish and the Public Highway: local provision and maintenance of roads and bridges in the area of Cheshire District, c1500-1900
Croxton Flint Mill and its relationship with the Trent and Mersey Canal
John Romney, artist-engraver (1785-1863): a biographical investigation
Colonial Conies and Cheshire Clays: a search for a solution
Torr Vale Mill and the Cotton Industry on the River Goyt at New Mills
The Impact of the Railway on Mollington a small rural community in Cheshire
Malcolm McIver, Brian Webster & Carl Stagg
Editorial: The Stephen Matthews Prize
Chester Cathedral Library: its origins and recent restoration
The English Longbow and Cheshire Bowmen
Sir Oliver Starkey, Knight of Malta
Agriculture in and around Congleton in the seventeenth century with particular reference to dairy farming
Cheshire and the Lysons Brothers: the making of a volume of Magna Britannia
The Workhouse Children of West Cheshire 1834-1871
Hidden Agenda: the early misfortunes of Willaston Board School under schoolmaster James Hall
Vauxhall comes to the Port: the story of the development of Hooton airfield into Vauxhall Motors Ellesmere Port Plant
A Chance Discovery: Genealogical and other extracts from the Diary of Sarah Savage of Wrenbury Wood, for the years 1688-1695
‘Thrown Into The Verge’: Cheshire’s Vanishing Pinfolds
An Accidental Heiress: The life and times of AnnaMarie Hunt of Mollingotn Hall (1771-1861)
The Portrait Paintings of Catherine Harrison (1779-1807)
‘A Complete and Constant Superintendence’: The Cheshire Parks and Gardens of Edward Kemp (1817-1891)
A Prospect of Cheshire: The agrarian landscape in the era of high farming circa 1870
Man with a Mission: The life and work of William Shaw (1842-1926) of the Mersey Mission to Seamen, Runcorn
David Sterry and Tony Foster
CLHA Chairman’s Introduction
The Green Knight: A Quest for Historical Identities. An essay for the octocentenary of Roger de Lacy in 1211
Cheshire’s Forgotten Salt Makers: Sea Salt Production on the Wirral
An Ancient Mariner and Tudor Hero: Sir George Beeston of Beeston
The Forgotten Estate of Moston Hall and the Founding of The Dale
The Leather Trades in Seventeenth Century Congleton
Vagrancy and Vice at Chester: The Relief of the Itinerant Poor, 1834-71
Aspects of Agriculture in Cheshire in the Victorian Period
Tribute to Joan Leach, MBE (1933-2010)
Landscape of Power, Aldford Castle, Cheshire
The Surrender of the City of Deventer to Spain by Sir William Stanley of Hooton
'A Noble Specimen of Architecture': A History of Tabley Old Hall
The Breaking of John Pickering of Thelwall
The Chester Branch of the Charity Organisation Society
Almshouse to Housing Trust: Philanthropic, Affordable and Social Housing in Malpas, c1500 to the Present
In Brief: Hooton's Lost Monument
Obituaries: Frank Latham, Tom Driver, Oliver Bott
Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Cheshire, June 2012: Reports sent in by History Societies
Two For One: the Archaeological Survey of Shocklach Castle, Cheshire
The Market and Fairs of Late Medieval Macclesfield
Peas and Pig Men: The Human Face of Chester's Medieval Court Records
A Man of Wealth and Principle: John Walker of Congleton
Rock Ferry, Rock House and Rock Farm
A 'Notorious' Cheshire Clergyman: the Rev. Joshua King, Rector of Woodchurch (1821-61)
'Open' and 'Closed' in South-West Cheshire: a New Methodology for Assessing Landownership Concentration
Ruth Sear, Mr Jackson's Books Sarah Webb
Extending the Known Route of the Middlewich to Chesterton Roman Road (2011-2012)
Palimpsest of Border Power: the Archaeological Survey of Dodleston Castle, Cheshire
Select Documents for Local and Family Historians in the Cheshire Quarter Sessions Files, 1571 to 1616, part one: 1571 to 1603 [with summaries for 1571-80]
Sir Thomas Holcroft of Vale Royal
A History of Leather Gloves: the mid-Cheshire Industry
The Paper Mills of Chester
The Early History of the Chester and Crewe Railway to c.1846
From International Success to Industrial Decline: Taylor Lang & Co., Stalybridge, 1852-1936
High Street Heyday? Edwardian Retail in a Small Cheshire Market Town (Middlewich)
Sir Piers Dutton of Dutton and Hatton, c.1480-1545: Mayor of Chester, High Sheriff of Cheshire and Knight of the Body of Henry VIII
Sin and Society in Sixteenth-Century Cheshire
Select Documents for Local and Family Historians in the Cheshire Quarter Sessions Files, 1571 to 1616, part one: 1571 to 1603 continued [with summaries for 1580-90]
There's No Smoke Without Fire: Hovels, Houses and the Hearth Tax in Ashton and Mouldsworth
The Caldwell Ledgers: from Record Office to Website
Commemorating the Great War: War comes to Provincial England: Nantwich welcomes Belgian Refugees,
Runcorn New Town: Planning a Community around Transportation
In Brief: The Story of Nelson Cottage in Parkgate Geoff Wright, The Origins of the 'Cheshire Cat' Peter Young
Lost and Found: a Medieval Castle in Poulton, West Cheshire?
Rachel Swallow & Matthew Thomas
Cheshire's Seat of Learning: Brasenose College, Oxford
Select Documents for Local and Family Historians in the Cheshire Quarter Sessions Files, 1571-1616, part one 1571-1603 continued [with summaries for 1590-96]
'Partakers of the Afflictions of the Gospel': the Sufferings of Roman Catholics, Quakers and Presbyterians in Post-Reformation Malpas, 1582 to c.1720
Dee House - the Early Years
The Derby House Estate and the Chester and Birkenhead Railway: Decimus Burton, George Stephenson and Rock Ferry, 1833-40
George Williamson, Nineteenth-Century Cheshire Carter and Publican
Principles, Power and Finance: the Politics of Poor Relief in West Cheshire, 1834-71
Find out what's happening in Cheshire with free, real-time updates from Patch.
David also told me that despite the parts of the line I'm familiar with here in Branford, the more frequently traveled line ran up in the Foxon area, because it was more direct. East Haven and Branford saw local trolley traffic from New Haven, but commuters to Old Saybrook took the northern route. The sections of track owned by the Trolley Museum are from the right-of-way sections -- most of the trolley line ran along main roads, like the tracks being dug up that Steve posted in last week's column.
The is operated by the Branford Electric Railway Association, which was formed in 1947 and purchased the 1.5 miles of track between River Street, East Haven, and Court Street in Short Beach. In 1981, the line was nominated by the Connecticut Historical Commission to be on the National Registry of Historic Places. The museum's collection includes trolley cars from all over the country and Canada, but a few are original Connecticut cars. The 1911, built in 1919, was painstakingly restored by George Papuga, a volunteer with the museum for almost fifty years. He began at the age of 11, working on that very trolley car, and he was able to use some of his volunteer work as high school credit for his shop classes.
Another of the museum's cars, the 500, was a "special" car, used by the Connecticut governor so he could travel in style. Connecticut's current governor recently announced that he expects the State Bond Commission to approve a $1 million state grant to the museum to help construct new storage areas for the trolleys above the flood plain -- preventing the kind of damage that Hurricane Irene caused last year, and keeping our trolley history safe!
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Poignant photo that captured one of the saddest days in Crewe's age of steam
It was the railway workshop of the world for much of the last century.
In the age of steam, there was one place in Britain synonymous with locomotive building and overhauling - Crewe.
Not only was the town the most important manufacturing hub, it was also one of the most important junctions in the UK, and has long rightly been known as the gateway to the north.
Our archives contain some fascinating photos that shed light on Crewe's railway history.
From the glory days of train building to the sadness captured perfectly in the photo of driver Charles Carter, unable to look as the last loco in service to be completely overhauled at Crewe pulled away, these exclusive photos offer a fine insight into the town's special place in the railway history of Britain and the world.
The million-mile train
The Patriot Class Locomotive 'The Derbyshire Yeomanry' was built at Crewe in 1932 and was originally numbered 6005. She weighed 123 tonnes in full working order and by the early 1950s had covered nearly a million miles of track
An engineer places the chromium plating spade onto the valve gear of Jubilee class No. 5552 Silver Jubilee at Crewe in April, 1935
Jubilee class leader, No. 5552, received a special high gloss black livery with chromium trim.
With the Second World War raging, jobs that had previously been done by men were left for women to fill. At Crewe station, women stepped in to take roles as railway porters, as seen here in 1942
The female porters played a key role in making sure goods and supplies continued to move around the country during the 1939 to 1945 conflict
The 123 year old Liverpool and Manchester Railway (LMR) 57 Lion steam locomotive cames out of retirement from the museum at Crewe to drive up and down the Rugby-Leamington line at Dunchurch, with driver and fireman both wearing period costume, in October 1961
It was all too much for driver Charles Carter, who turned away as one of the last steam locomotive to be given a complete overhaul by British Railways at Crewe, the Riddles Britannia class 7P pacific No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell, departs. The Mayor of Crewe, Councillor Herbert Vernon, helped drive the train out of the works in February 1967. While work carried on to overhaul preserved locos, the Oliver Cromwell was the last in service steam engine to be overhauled at Crewe
History of the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad
There had been on-going discussion about the need for a railroad out of Vancouver for quite some time since the completion of the trans-continental railroad. The first person to take action was L.M. Hidden, a Vancouver businessman. Hidden was involved in farming, brick making, hotel operation and philanthropic endeavors. Hidden was also involved in Clark County activities and helped form the Clark County Fair Association.
There is an unverified story that Hidden and his family, along with several friends and their families, went on a picnic at Moulton Falls. They were so impressed with the abundant timber in the area that they decided to build a railroad to gain access to it.
In any event, on 7/8/1886 Hidden and 5 associates left Vancouver to survey the proposed route to Yakima. Hidden felt that the route would give him access to the timber, the wheat growing country around Yakima and there might be coal and other minerals along the way. They were gone a month and returned with estimates of timber and mining resources and certain that a practical route could be laid out.
On 9/22/1887, the Clark County Register announced that the Vancouver, Klickitat and Yakima, Vancouver’s first railroad, had recently been incorporated with one million dollars in funding. L. M. Hidden was vice-president. On 1/31/1888, work began, and the first locomotive for the line arrived in Vancouver on 12/20/1888. The goal of the railroad was to serve Vancouver and Yakima by way of the Klickitat Pass. It was envisioned that it would ultimately connect with the Great Northern Railroad and the Manitoba line of the Canadian National Railway at Yakima creating a transcontinental connection.
The line was eventually built to Brush Prairie, but the country fell into an economic depression and money ran out for further expansion and operations. Finally, on 11/25/1897, the railroad was broke and had to be sold. It was renamed the Portland, Vancouver and Yakima Railroad by the new owners.
Within four months under the new ownership, the railroad was bringing 50,000 board feet of logs a day from Brush Prairie to Vancouver. In November of 1898, the stockholders increased their capital stock from $50,000 to $250,000 and sought right of way to extend the line to Chelatchie Prairie.
By September 1901, there were 4 work camps working on extending the rail line to Yacolt. During that period, crews were working on a 300-foot long tunnel between the Lewis River and Battle Ground at Moulton Falls.
The summer of 1902 was exceptionally dry and by the second week in September, there were fires all over the Northwest. One fire started near Bonneville, in Skamania County and moved through the timber covered hills taking 10 days to reach the Yacolt area. The wind changed and Yacolt was spared. By the time the fire burned out near Mt. St. Helens, the loss in property and resources reached approximately 13 million dollars. Much of the burned land was owned by the Weyerhaeuser Timber Co., which mounted a huge salvage operation, based in Yacolt. Operations were conducted by the Weyerhaeuser subsidiaries Clarke County Timber Company and Twin Falls Logging Company. The Twin Falls Logging Company laid track and ran logging trains through the woods.
In 1903, the railroad was completed to Yacolt, and the town boomed. The Vancouver Independent wrote:
"Keep your eye on Yacolt and Battle Ground. Both of these little towns are now experiencing booms that are almost phenomenal. During the past month there has been quite a movement in real estate in both places and a number of new buildings have been erected. The booms in both towns are occasioned by the increase in the logging business. The Columbia River Lumber Company have just established three camps on a spur near Battle Ground and in the Yacolt Country preparations are being made for an extensive logging business."
Also in 1903 the P,V&K merged with the Washington and Oregon Railroad and they became the Washington Railway and Navigation Company. This company lasted only 3½ months and it was transferred to the Northern Pacific Railroad on 11/11/1903 to be under control of that company’s Pacific Division.
The new owners immediately began regular passenger service to Yacolt, with one passenger coach making the trip each way daily. A one-way ticket from Yacolt to Vancouver cost $1.07. Prior to the addition of passenger coaches by the Northern Pacific, passengers rode wherever space was available in the caboose, on freight cars, even on the engine.
The salvage of burned timber was completed by 1910, and by the mid-1920's, logging of green timber in the area was winding down. On December 4, 1929, George S. Long, general manager of Weyerhaeuser, wrote the stockholders of the Clarke County Timber Company regarding the closure of operations in the area. The area had been logged off, he wrote, and that there was no demand for the land for agricultural purposes as it would cost more for the purchaser to clear the land of stumps than he could buy an already cleared and cultivated parcel for.
"At Yacolt we have two or three worn out buildings, all vacant and without any perceptible value whatever, these including an old warehouse, a residence formerly occupied by our logging Superintendent, a hospital building, which has been robbed of much of its equipment, and one or two very small buildings of no value, in fact none of them have any value today for Yacolt is absolutely dead with no promise for a future life."
After the departure of Weyerhaeuser, The Northern Pacific continued to operate logging trains on the line to serve the remaining small-scale operations in the area, but there was no longer any need for passenger service. By the mid-1940's, the Northern Pacific was only running one train a week to Yacolt.
In 1948, Harbor Plywood completed the long planned extension to Chelatchie Prairie, opening that area to logging. Two years later, the Longview, Portland and Northern bought the rail line Harbor Plywood and later bought the remainder of the line from the Northern Pacific. International Paper Company, the parent company of the L,P&N, built a huge lumber and plywood plant there in 1960.
Even though the Northern Pacific sold the line, it was not the end of NP involvement in the area. In the late 1950’s NP was running one log train a day from Kelso to Yacolt. The train would leave Kelso at 7:00am, pick up empty cars at Longview, stop at Battle Ground where the crew would eat lunch, and arrive at Yacolt at 12:30pm. On the return trip, the train would drop off the log cars at Longview and be back in Kelso at 7:45pm.
When the mill was closed in 1979, the entire line was put up for sale.
Three Vancouver businessmen bought the line in March 1981 and changed its name to the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad. It was used both commercially and for passenger traffic until January of 1984 when the owners filed for abandonment in order to tear it up, sell the tracks and ties and 340 acres of right-of-way.
Clark County purchased the railroad and leased it to the Lewis and Clark Railroad, which had run excursion service and continues to use a portion of the line for commercial purposes.
Over time, with severe winter weather, lack of maintenance and changes in ownership, the track-bed, rails, bridges, and buildings north of Battle Ground have deteriorated. A group of community volunteers came together in 1998 with the goal of restoring the line and building the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad into a functioning historical railroad. Working with the support of Clark County, the track from Moulton Falls to Chelatchie Prairie has been restored, and excursion service resumed on May 26, 2001. Work continues on improving the track and upgrading equipment with the goal of restoring service to Battle Ground.
We may not think much about them today, but in the mid-19th century buttons were a growth market. The expanding global trade in fabrics and mass manufacture of the home sewing machine were bringing radical change to daily wear in the United States. Until then, most women had two or three dresses. Now they could have several, and older garments could be more easily updated to the latest fashion. Buttons became important trend statements, often replacing complicated hook and eye catches, ribbons, ties and temporary stitching. Though metal buttons were Ball & Socket's staple product in later years, the company made its name with fancy glass buttons known as "Cheshire Jewels," which are considered highly collectible today. Uniform buttons made by the company were worn by armed and civilian forces including U.S. forces in the Civil War, and the Free French and Soviet Armies in W.W. II. The company also made an array of other stamped metal products including jingle bells, cardholders, drawer pulls and razor parts. A "ball & socket", by the way, is what today we call a "snap" fastener—the two part thing where the ball snaps into the socket!
CHESHIRE RAILROAD STATIONS: Did you know? And would you believe? Connecticut Railroad History in Fact, Foible, Folly, and Fraud
Robert Joseph Belletzkie, who lives in Prospect, is web stationmaster of http://www.tylercitystation.info a website which documents old Connecticut railroad stations. At the turn of the 20th century, Cheshire was served by two railroad lines with at least five active station stops with as many as 14 daily trains. Belletzkie is a librarian, historian, author, and ferroequinologist who is fascinated by railroad history in general and spends his retirement crisscrossing the state to research town railroad stations and what happened to them. Come learn the important role that the Iron Horse played in the social, economic and cultural life our town and in Connecticut.
Refreshments are provided
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