Georgetown-Ipswich trolley

The trolley comes to Ipswich, June 26, 1896

The brief era of horse-drawn trolleys apparently never materialized in Ipswich. An electric 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 Sally Choate house on the left is no longer standing. Beyond it is the Ipswich Museum and the 2nd Congregational Church, which burned in 1977. The photo was taken before 1927 when the Whipple House was moved to its present location.

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 at Town Farm Road, before the bridge was built (photo by Edward L. Darling)
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.)
georgetown-rowley-ipswich trolley

The era of the trolley ended as quickly as it came. By 1919 the streets were beginning to fill with Mr. Ford’s Model Ts, 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.
This photo was taken by Ipswich photographer George Dexter (1860-1920). The identity of the house is unknown, but matches the description in the story.
The wife and children of South Church pastor Rev. Thomas Franklin Waters, in front of this house at 96 County Road.


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.

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