Driving the First Spike

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For the Exeter Street Railway Company

May 19, 1897

Compiled by John M. Holman, Contributing Writer

Lane Memorial Library, Hampton, New Hampshire
May 19, 1897

It was 111 years ago when the first spike was driven for the installation of the new Exeter Street Railway Company, on May 19, 1897, later would be the Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury Street Railway Company.

This Electric Railway connecting the towns of Exeter and Hampton N.H. with the world-wide known Hampton Beach, was commenced May 19, 1897, and completed July 3, 1897, giving the inhabitants of these and the surrounding towns, as well as visitors, a quick and pleasant access by well-built, open and close cars, to one of the most beautiful seaside resorts on the entire Atlantic coast, at a very moderate cost. This illustration represents the laying of the first rail May 19, 1897, the first spike being driven by Judge Charles M. Lamprey, of Hampton, on which occasion he addressed the assembled inhabitants of the two towns as follows:

"One hundred years ago this present week the people collected in front of the present town hall for the raising of that building, which was then the town [Congregational] church. There were more or less croakers at that early day, on the ground that the old church was still suitable. Eighty-two years ago the present month there was another gathering at this spot for the raising of Hotel Whittier. There was more or less croaking then, on the ground that a new hotel was not advisable and wouldn't pay. This is the oldest wayside inn in New England, the site having thus been used continuously for more than two hundred years.

"Fifty-four years ago the present month the people gathered before the Congregational church for the raising of that building, to which there was more or less objection. Some thought it best to repair the old town church.

"Twenty-five years ago the present month the people assembled to raise two fine school-houses, the East and the Centre. There was objection on the ground that the old brick school-houses were good enough.

"Today, May 19, is the most important of all the days of the past one hundred years. The people have come together to lay the first rail connecting Hampton and Exeter, whose settlement was contemporaneous in 1638— one, the oldest beach town east of Boston, the other, the shire town and one of the most beautiful places in all New England. When these two towns are connected by the steel rail, they will be made a unity, and the political division line will be forgotten. It will bring to Hampton increase of wealth and popularity as a summer resort. It will increase the prosperity and business importance of noted Exeter.

"And now it becomes my privilege as a native and resident of Hampton, to drive the first spike of the first rail that binds these historic towns together."

In commemoration of this event, which marks a new era in the development and progress of these two beautiful old towns, as well as the State of New Hampshire, this souvenir picture is presented to all patrons of the road at its opening by the officers of the company.

WILLIAM LEE, President
GEO. W. TERRILL, Treasurer
C. L. COTTON, Gen'l Managers
W. D. LOVELL, Gen'l Managers
CHARLES A. COTTON, Electrical Engineer
CHAS. A. COTTON, Director
JOHN D. GILMAN, Director
C. L. COTTON, Director
W. D. LOVELL, Director
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