Georgetown-Ipswich trolleyHistory

The trolley comes to Ipswich, June 26, 1896

The brief era of horse-drawn trolleys apparently never materialized in Ipswich. Electric trolleys occupied the streets of Ipswich in the early 20th Century. A trolley line from Beverly through Hamilton to Essex and Gloucester opened in 1895, and on June 26, 1896, the first car on the branch that followed Candlewood Road to Ipswich arrived in town, greeted by a large crowd at Market Square. On that day, hundreds of people took advantage of the free ride to Essex Junction, some enjoying it as many as three times!

early trolley on South Main Street

Early four-wheel trolley on South Main Street arriving on the line from Beverly and Essex

The following year, the Georgetown, Rowley and Ipswich Street Railway opened, but its tracks ended at the High Street crossing of the B&M railroad. Passengers wishing to continue through Ipswich had to walk the distance from High Street to Market Square to change lines. In 1906 the town and B&M railway gained permission from the Massachusetts Grade Crossing Commission to construct the High Street Bridge. and on July 1907, the first set of improved eight-wheel trolleys crossed the bridge, making it possible to go from one end of Essex County to the other for 15 cents. The Haverhill, Georgetown & Danvers Street Railway began service in 1896. As in Ipswich, passengers would have to disembark and walk to the center of Georgetown because the railroad commission would not allow the streetcars to cross the track. This inconvenience was eventually corrected by building a trestle that crossed high over the tracks.

Probably in Georgetown, a trestle allowing the Georgetown-Ipswich trolley to cross the railroad tracks.


Georgetown-Ipswich street railroad stop at Glen Mills. Photo courtesy of the Rowley Historical Commission.


High Street before the bridge was built over the train tracks.

The first bridge over the tracks at High Street was built in 1906

The first bridge over the tracks at High Street was built in 1906 to accommodate the trolley from Georgetown. High Street originally went straight (on the left.)


The era of the trolley ended as quickly as it came. By 1919 the streets were beginning to fill with Mr. Ford’s Model T’s, and people were no longer willing to wait for a ride.

Trolley tracks on Central Street

Trolley tracks were laid on Central Street, connecting the Essex and Georgetown lines.

Trolley at Market Square

Closed trolley at Market Square

Trolleys unloading at Market Square

Trolleys unloading at Market Square


Open trolleys were used in the summer

Trolley tracks at Market Square

The automotive age brought the end of trolleys in Ipswich, but the tracks stayed around for awhile.


Photo by George Dexter. The location is uncertain.


The family of Thomas Franklin Waters on County Rd.


View more trolleys at Manchester Streetcars and the Seashore Trolley Museum

Trolleys had to contend with people, cows, horses, wagons, and deteriorating tracks. The video below is taken from a trolley on a Boston street, circa 1900.

Categories: History, Roads, Video

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