"Holyoke Street Railway"
by Jeremy Smith
This coming Feb 12 will mark the 130th anniversary of the founding of the Holyoke Street Railway.
The Holyoke Street Railway enjoyed some of its greatest success during the years 1910 to 1923. This was a period of major rail and service expansion. In addition to carrying passengers, the HSR began offering milk & mail transport services, street sprinkling, and funeral transport. Funeral cars were equipped with room for a casket, the attendant mourners, and a trolley inspector to steer the car.
Ridership of the Mt. Tom Railway to the Summit House peaked in 1920 at 75,532. In 1923, earnings for the company were $3,500,000, its highest ever. This prosperity mirrored Holyoke’s. In 1920 the population of Holyoke peaked at 60,203. Combined with the economic boom of the United States’ entry into World War I in 1917, the late teens and early twenties were truly a golden era for Holyoke and its railway company.
The final trolley ride was taken on Labor Day in 1937.
Jeremy Smith is an archivist who is currently the Digital Project Manager for the W. E. B. Du Bois Digitization Project at Special Collections and University Archives at the UMass Amherst Library. He is responsible for a Holyoke Street Railway Company online exhibit. He is a Holyoke resident. and a graduate of the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science.