Trolleys to the Casino: Operations

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Operations of the EH&A under municipal ownership differed little from those in the years prior to 1921. The routes were the same as before, with cars running between Exeter and the Hampton Beach Casino; between Hampton Village and Smithtown Square, and between Hampton Beach and Portsmouth in summer. During the fall, winter and spring, service was provided between Exeter and Smithtown and between Whittier's and Portsmouth junction via Hampton Beach.

(Because of curtailed service by the Portsmouth Electric between Portsmouth and Portsmouth junction in the fall, winter and spring from 1921 on, many of the EH&A's trips from Whittier's ran only as far north as the Hampton Beach Coast Guard station).

At Smithtown, the EH&A continued to connect with the Northeastern's lines to Newburyport via Salisbury and to Amesbury via Salisbury Plains, with Northeastern cars running over rented EH&A trackage from the state line to the waiting room in Smithtown Square. As earlier reported, the Smithtown-Amesbury line was abandoned by the Northeastern on December 17, 1923, leaving the Smithtown-Newburyport route as the only year-round southern connection for the EH&A. (The Northeastern operated cars to and from Hampton Beach during the summer season only).

Unfortunately, municipal operation of the EH&A was just as unprofitable, if not more so, than under private management. During the year ended December 31, 1921, despite an increase in the number of passengers carried over the previous year, revenues failed to meet operating expenses by some $4,000 and similar situations prevailed in 1922, 1923, 1924 and 1925 although the deficiencies varied from year to year. The annual contributions by Exeter and Hampton Falls (and by Seabrook for one year) helped somewhat but the town of Hampton was forced to appropriate tax money to meet the balance of the losses as well as to pay the interest on the $88,000 in municipal bonds floated to purchase and improve the railway property. It soon became only too apparent that Hampton had made a big mistake in buying the railway and that the town had a giant white elephant on its hands.

The major reason for the poor showing of the railway was steadily decreasing patronage resulting largely from constantly growing automobile competition, thanks to highway improvements and lower prices for mass produced motor cars, but the EH&A also was the victim of unfavorable weather conditions. A rainy summer held down the riding during 1922 and the lines from Hampton Village to Smithtown and from Hampton Village to Hampton Beach and Portsmouth were completely snowbound from early January until April 10, 1923.

Several methods of reducing expenses were suggested by the board of directors in its 1923 report. It was recommended that operation be suspended during periods of heavy snow and that one-man cars be used more extensively. The board also suggested that fares might be raised; that efforts be made to obtain renewed financial assistance from Seabrook, and that the operation of through service between Newburyport and Exeter, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Northeastern, might attract additional patronage. Although some fare adjustments were made within the framework of the basic 10 cent rate and Seabrook was approached without success, no attempt was made to inaugurate the Newburyport-Exeter service, probably due in large part to lack of interest by the Northeastern.

The beginning of the end for the Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury came on January 23, 1925 when the Portsmouth Electric Railway was authorized to suspend operations between Rye Beach and Portsmouth Junction until the following summer. This meant the end of trolley service between Portsmouth and Hampton Beach for when summer came, the Boston & Maine Transportation Company was operating motor buses over the routes of the former Portsmouth Electric. These buses did not operate through to Hampton Beach, however, and it was necessary for beach-bound passengers to change to EH&A trolleys at Portsmouth junction.

The EH&A summer timetable for 1925, effective July 3, called for cars to leave Exeter for Hampton Beach, on weekdays, at 6:50 and 8 a.m. and hourly until 10 p. m., with an 11 p.m. trip to the car barn only except on Wednesday and Saturday nights (dance nights at the casino) when the car ran through to the beach. On Sundays, hourly service was given from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., with a 10 p.m. trip from Exeter to Hampton Village and an 11 o'clock run to the car barn.

On weekdays, cars left Hampton Village for Hampton Beach at 5:55, 6:35 and 7:40 a. m. and hourly until 12:40 p.m., then 1:10 and every 30 minutes until 8:40 p. m., then at 9:40 and 10:40. Trips at 11:40 p. m. were made on Wednesday and Saturday nights. On Sundays, hourly service was given from 7:40 until 11:40 a. m., at 12:10 p.m. and half hourly until 8:10 p.m., and then at 8:40 and 9:40. The last car off the beach at night departed at 11 p.m. on weekdays (midnight on Wednesdays and Saturdays) and 10 p.m. Sundays.

Between Hampton Beach and Portsmouth junction, cars ran on an hourly headway on weekdays from 7:45 a. m. until 10:45 p. m., with an 11:45 p. m. trip on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Sundays, hourly service was given from 8:45 a. m. to 9:45 p. m.

The fall schedule was placed in effect on Monday, September 14, and called for a basic hourly headway between Exeter and Hampton Beach and between Whittier's and Smithtown. On the North Beach branch, there were only two round trips daily between the casino and the Coast Guard station, an additional trip being made on Sundays. But even this was not long to last for on Sunday, September 20, all service between Hampton Falls and Smithtown was abandoned and Hampton Village-Hampton Falls service was reduced to two round trips daily, Monday through Friday only ..

Between Hampton and Hampton Beach, there were two round trips daily on weekdays and three round trips on Saturdays and Sundays. Extra trips between Hampton and Hampton Beach were operated on demand at a minimum fare of 50 cents for two passengers or less and at the regular fare for three or more passengers. So far as can be determined, hourly service was continued between Exeter and Hampton Village as were the two round trips on weekdays and three on Sundays between the Hampton Beach Casino and the Coast Guard Station.

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