Trolleys to the Casino: On to Amesbury!

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Late in 1897, Promoter Lovell announced plans to build a line from Hampton Village through Hampton .Calls to Smithtown Square in Seabrook and the Massachusetts boundary and on through Salisbury Plains to the thriving industrial town of Amesbury in the Bay State.

(Serious consideration also was given at this time to the construction of the authorized line from Exeter to Epping but it was decided that such a route did not yet have sufficient potential and nothing further was done. Although the proposal was revived from time to time in later years, the route never was built.)

The proposed Hampton-Amesbury route, beginning at Whittier's Corner, was to parallel the Lafayette Highway all the way to Smithtown Square. There was to be a grade crossing of the Boston & Maine's Eastern Division just a short distance south of Whittier's and the railway was to rebuild the existing highway bridge over the Taylor River on the causeway across the marshes between Hampton and Hampton Falls.

(The grade crossings on Exeter Road, Hampton, and on the Hampton-Amesbury line both were eliminated in 1900 through the construction of highway bridges, across which the street railway laid its tracks.)

From the state boundary, the line was to parallel what is now Main Street, Salisburv Plains, to Dole's Corner and extend along Congress Street, crossing the Amesbury-Salisbury town line at Frost's Corner, to the present Clinton Street in Amesbury. Running westerly along Clinton Street to Market Street, the line was to continue down Market Street to and into Market Square, where connections were to be made with the Haverhill & Amesbury and the Newburyport & Ames- bury Street Railways.

(The Haverhill & Amesbury operated electric cars from Haverhill through Merrimac to Amesbury, Salisbury Square and Salisbury Beach and from Salisbury Square to Newburyport. An H&A horsecar route extended from Salisbury Square northerly along the Lafayette Highway toward the New Hampshire state line and Smithtown and there was a steam dummy line along Salisbury Beach from the Merrimack River to a point near the Granite State boundary at Seabrook Beach. The Newburyport &- Amesbury, which became the Citizens' Electric Street Railway in May 1899, extended from Newburyport to Amesbury; from Amesbury to Merrimacport and Merrimac, and from Newburyport to Parker River in the Oldtown section of Newbury.)

Due to the limitations of the Exeter Street Railway's charter, it could build only that portion of the proposed Hampton-Amesbury route between Whittier's and the Hampton-Hampton Falls boundary. A new company, the Hampton & Amesbury Street Railway, had to be organized in New Hampshire to construct the tracks through Hampton Falls and Seabrook to the state line, and a second new corporation, the Amesbury & Hampton Street Railway, was necessary to own the section of the projected line within the Bay State.

During April 1898, the articles of association of the Hampton & Amesbury were filed with the State Supreme Court in accordance with a general street railway law enacted in 1895. This petition was referred to a board of three referees, who were to determine if the public good required construction of the line. Their report was favorable and the Hampton & Amesbury's charter was issued June 13.

The articles of association of the Amesbury & Hampton Street Railway were filed in Massachusetts on Jan. 27, 1899 and the charter of incorporation was issued on March 20, after necessary franchises had been granted in Salisbury and Amesbury.

Lovell, of course, was among the incorporators of both companies and among those associated with him in the Amesbury & Hampton were Edward R. Briggs, R. E. Briggs and George S. Briggs of the Briggs Carriage Company; John S. Poyen, president of the Atlantic Boat Company of Amesbury; George E. Gale, an Amesbury clothier; Joseph T. Clarkson, also an Amesbury carriage manufacturer; John M. Garland, manager of the Amesbury Electric Light Company; Benjamin F. Sargent, an Amesbury banker, and A. Willis Bartlett of Salisbury.

Grading on the Hampton-Amesbury line began at Whittier's about Nov. 1, 1898 and track laying commenced two weeks later. The railhead had just about reached the Hampton Falls boundary when the famous "Portland Storm" of Saturday, November 26, forced a halt to all work. (The storm was so named in recognition of one of the worst maritime disasters in New England history, the sinking of the coastal steamer "Portland" a few hours after it left Boston for Portland, Maine.)

During January 1899, Lovell organized a new promotion agency, the Massachusetts Construction Company, and shortly thereafter, this concern contracted with Soule, Dillingham & Company of Boston to complete the Hampton & Amesbury and to build the Amesbury & Hampton. Construction of the Hampton & Amesbury resumed on April 19, 1899 and about a month later, on May 20, the tracks reached the state line. On the following day, a Sunday, regular service was started between Hampton Village and Smithtown Square.

Meanwhile, the Haverhill & Amesbury Street Railway was busy electrifying its horsecar line from Salisbury Square toward Smithtown and extending the route to the state boundary, where it was met by a short branch of the Hampton & Amesbury from Smithtown Square. Service between Newburyport and Smithtown commenced Sunday, May 28, making it possible to ride by trolley all the way from Boston and beyond to Exeter and Hampton Beach.

Work on the Amesbury & Hampton was started early in May, even before the Hampton & Amesbury's tracks reached Smithtown. All of the track was down by June 3 but erection of the overhead wires proceeded more slowly and it was not until 5:25 p. m. on Monday, July 3, that the first electric car over the Amesbury & Hampton arrived in Market Square, Amesbury. During the next hour or so, two round trips were made between Market Square and the Seabrook post office, the 10 bench open trolley carrying town officials, invited guests and as many children as could be accommodated.

As constructed, the Hampton-Amesbury line was about 9.5 miles long - from Whittier's Corner, Hampton, to Market Square, Amesbury. At Whittier's, a wye arrangement was provided so that cars from Amesbury could run through to either Exeter or Hampton Beach, and in Market Square, there was an end-on physical connection with the Citizens' Electric Street Railway. Through a crossover in the square, connections also were made with the Haverhill & Amesbury.

(Speaking of the Haverhill & Amesbury, reports persisted during late April 1899 that Lovell planned to sell the Amesbury & Hampton's rights in Salisbury and Amesbury to the H&A for $10,000. Lovell angrily branded the reports false, declaring heatedly that he intended to build the line immediately - and build it he did!)

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