THE RAILROAD COMES TO FITZWILLIAM




Old State Line Station
When, in 1845, the movement was started to bring the Cheshire Railroad into southern New Hampshire, the engineers surveyed two routes from Fitchburg to Keene, one passing through the town of Richmond, the other through Fitzwilliam. The promoters of the railroad held a public hearing in each town. At the hearing in Fitzwilliam, Daniel Spaulding, one of the influential citizens, expressed his earnest desire to have the railroad go through this town, and said that if it did, he had $5,000 to invest in its stock; nothing, if it went elsewhere.

Fitzwilliam Depot
Station
The engineers argued that a route through Fitzwilliam meant one of heavy grades and consequent expense in building, and unless Fitzwilliam people were willing to contribute with substantial investments, they could not consider it. Mr. Spaulding assured the meeting that if the promoters would stay overnight, and in the morning go over the route he would show them, they would find that the steep grades could be avoided. They agreed, and the next day went over the route he had laid out. A third survey by the engineers endorsed his judgement.

Right of way today
When the railroad was built, it substantially followed Spaulding's plan. Its highest point was just south of Rockwood Pond, an elevation of 1141 feet, the greatest between Fitzwilliam and Fitchburg. The picture to the left shows the railroad right of way at this point, as it looks today. It is now used as a hiking, biking and snowmobile trail.

Red Bridge and Cut
The building of the railroad (1845-1848), brought in a large group of Irish laborers and their families. They seemed to be known only as "Irish," though in the burial records two are identified by the places where they lived, as "child of an Irishman, (old Phillips house,)" and "Irish woman, (at McManus.)"



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Copyright © 1962, Fitzwilliam Historical Society - Copyright © 2001, Frank Bequaert