Steeples : Sketches of North Adams

Ransom of Mercy Carter

Digging for Genealogical Treasure in New England Town Records

History of North Adams.

During the first year or two considerable trouble was experienced, by the freezing of the pipes, and especially the hydrants, which were made for the Southern trade, and practically useless during our rigorous winter months. From the first year in the history of the Fire District until the present time the water rents have constantly increased in amount. In 1883 the town had increased so much in population that during the dry months of the year there was a great scarcity of water. All sorts of plans were talked over in order to meet the immediate demands of the district. It was finally decided to supply the town from artesian wells. These were begun in the summer of 1884, two wells being sunk at a cost of about $15,000, which included land damages of $8,000. A contract was made with the Knowles Steam Pump Works to furnish house, boiler and pumps for forcing the water from the wells into the reservoirs. The contract was finished and the pumps used first in the summer of 1885.


In the winter of 1863, a charter was issued by the legislature of Massachusetts incorporating the North Adams Gas Light company, with a capital stock of $50,000. John B. Tyler, S. Johnson and A. W. Richardson were the incorporators. A contract was made, with the Providence Steam and Gas Fitting company to lay all the pipes then needed and furnish the retorts, the incorporators furnishing buildings.

April 2d 1864, the company was formed with officers as follows:, Directors, A. W. Richardson, John B. Tyler, S. Johnson, S. W. Brayton and W. S. Blackinton. John B. Tyler was elected first president, W. W. Freeman treasurer and H. Clay Bliss clerk. The price of gas per thousand feet was $5.00. A. W. Richardson was elected president in 1866, at the same time the office of clerk and treasurer was made one, and H. Clay Bliss re-elected. S. Johnson was president from 1867 to 1873; John B. Tyler from 1873 to 1878; A. W. Richardson from 1878 to 1884; W. L. Brown was elected in 1884. In 1878 Frank S. Richardson succeeded Mr. Bliss as clerk and treasurer, and in 1884 this office was divided and Arthur. D. Cady elected clerk, Mr. Richardson still continuing the treasurship. The price of gas has been reduced from $5.00 to $2.15 per thousand feet. The plant has cost to the present day about $150.000.


In the winter of 1878 this railway company was organized, consisting of a few Boston capitalists, with General William Burt at the head, and to him is due the energy and push which surmounted all opposition and procured the necessary legislation. In carrying out his project Mr. Burt was opposed by the Troy & Boston and New York Central Railway Companies. The courts were appealed to in New York, and the aid of the Legislature invoked. The Troy & Boston Company tried the same tactics in Massachusetts, but the victory was final with the new road, which was formally opened on Monday, the 21st of December, 1879.


About 1820, the possibility of building a canal from Boston to Albany was presented to the legislature, which was more seriously, entertained after the completion of the Erie canal in 1823. In 1855 three commissioners and an engineer were appointed, to ascertain if it was practicable. Several routes were tested, though their report in 1826, favored one across the northern part of Worcester county, up the Deerfield river, through the Hoosac mountain, and, by the valley of the Hoosac river, to the Hudson near Troy. About this time, railroads began to attract attention, and their superiority was immediately recognized, and the project of a canal abandoned. In 1840, the Troy & Greenfield railroad company was chartered. The company proposed to build a road to and through the mountain, thence to Williamstown, there to connect with any road leading to, or near the city of Troy. The length of the road from Greenfield, was 45 miles. The estimated cost of which, including the tunnel would be $80,000 per mile. It is hardly necessary to give a history of the tunnel here, as excellent accounts of this stupendous feat of engineering have already been produced. A few facts will suffice. Ground was first broken for the tunnel in the spring of 1850. Two shafts were sunk, called the West and Central shafts. The latter was sunk a distance of 1,028 feet, requiring, four years of continuous labor, and an expenditure of not less than half a million dollars. This gave the workmen six working points. The first passage of cars, occurred On February 9th 1875, after 25 years of labor, during a portion of which time upwards of a thousand men were employed, and the work pushed night and day. The first freight train passed through on the 5th of April and consisted of 22 cars from the west, loaded with grain. Passenger trains began to run from Boston to Troy in October of the same year, though the tunnel was not officially declared to be ready for business until July 1st 1876. In round numbers the tunnel is 25,031 feet in length, 20 feet high, 425 feet in width. From it was excavated 1,900,000 tons of rock,

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