First Street Railway Spike Driven In 1897

From the 75th Anniversary edition

Hampton Union

July 23, 1975

By John M. Holman

Tuck Memorial Museum Curator

Hampton Historical Society

1st spike driven
Judge Charles Lamprey driving the first spike of the street railroad,
Toppan Farm in the background. [Courtesy Wayne P. Bryer.]

It was May 19, 1897, at 10:30 in the morning in Hampton, when the first spike was driven for the electric railway which was to be in operation for 29 years before complete abandonment in 1926. The trolley line, at first called the Exeter Street Railway, later to become consolidated into the Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury Street Railway Company, connected the towns of Exeter and Hampton with the famous Hampton Beach, was completed July 3, 1897. This line gave "the inhabitants of these and the surrounding towns, as well as visitors, a quick and pleasant access by well-built, open and closed cars, to one of the most beautiful seaside resorts on the entire Atlantic coast, at a very moderate cost." -- Hampton Union 1899.

The laying of the first rail and spike (photo) took place on May 19, 1897 on Winnacunnet Road at Whittier’s Corner across from what is now the Shell Service Station. Driving the first spike was Judge Charles M. Lamprey, on which occasion he addressed the assembled crowd of the two towns of Exeter and Hampton, and said in substance:

"This is one of the most important events in the history of Hampton. One hundred years ago this present week, the people of Hampton assembled on the spot where now stands the town hall (Ed., Town Hall burned March 19, 1949, never rebuilt) for the erection of a town church. Eighty-two years ago this month, the people again assembled at this noted corner, which had then been a wayside inn for over 100 years, for the raising of the present hotel. Fifty-four years ago the present month, on the spot where the present Congregational Church stands, the church was raised for the oldest Congregational society in New Hampshire.

"Today we assemble again to celebrate the most important of all events in the town’s history, the commencement of this town’s connection with Exeter, the shire town of the county."

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