Sunday, May 25, 2008

Canton Center Railroad Depot

Canton Center Railroad Depot

For the past twenty-five years or so, I have been commuting into Boston on the MBTA. With so many days that start and end with a commute, it is hard not to be fascinated by trains. For many years my stop in-bound and out has been Canton Center. I like the rural charm of the stop and it is very close to our house which makes it very convenient. And, while it looks like a simple parking lot and a single platform, the photo above attests to it's one-time importance.

The connection to the railroad in Canton has been especially strong and ever since 1834 we have had a close relationship to trains. In fact, but for Joseph Warren Revere (Paul Revere's Son) we might never have had the rail line through Canton, and this is especially true for the Stoughton Branch. Revere was on the Board of Directors of the fledgling Boston & Providence Railroad, and it is likely his pledge of Stock and money to support the enterprise led to the decision for the line to run through his father's factory - The Revere & Sons Copper Rolling Mill. The Stoughton Branch line runs right past the first railroad spur in America, built specifically for the Revere Company.

The image above is a postcard, one that recently sold on eBay. Take a look at the small shelter on the right hand side, and also note that in fact this is a time when the rail-line was "double tracked" to Stoughton. If you look closely at the details in the photo you will see the flag man who has stopped traffic (traffic???), the man on the strange bicycle contraptions mounted to the tracks, and the lady under the shelter dressed in her finest early 20th century duds. The depot h as a spur for freight that runs just behind the building and you can see the freight cars awaiting their shipments. To the left is the large depot station, and the photo hints at the bucolic nature of the period - way in the background in the far left is a small bard with a cart loaded for the day.

At some point the buildings were removed. The small waiting room structure (which had a beautiful architectural roofline,) and the larger depot building were no longer needed and fell victim to neglect. Eventually the second rail line through the center was also removed. There are few vestiges (if any) from the scene left today. The retaining wall for the small historic house is still there, but all else seems like a dream from another time and place. Next time you drive through the center and cross the tracks, take a moment to reflect at what stood at this crossing in another age.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Canton Center

Canton Center

Another true "postcard" of Canton Center. While work in Canton's downtown is in full swing again this Summer, reflect back to a gentler time when parking was angled into the downtown business district. The best way to look at this image is to click on the photograph with your mouse and take a detailed look at the streetscape (you can do this with all my photos).

A few electrical poles dot the street and overall we see a more bucolic center, A drugstore and the "Five cent to a $1.00 Store" seems to say McLellan's in plain view on the right hand side, where Richard Lewis Formal Wear now operates. A few Coca-Cola signs dot the street. All of the trees that graced Canton Center at the turn of the 1900's are gone, fallen to Dutch Elm Disease. And hardly a turning lane at Bolivar Street in sight.

As you sit in the construction traffic, imagine the gentler time where folks would have had to actually wait for you to back out of the angled parking and into the travel lane. Take a look at how much advertising graces the street today as opposed to fifty years ago. Imagine the delight of getting an ice-cream cone or a malt at the neighborhood drugstore. And, assume that there was some sort of civility and a slower pace to the day.

This image most closely resembles my earliest remembrance of "downtown". My grandmother had a small hair salon just below the fall's near the Canton Cinema. And while I do not know the exact location, I do remember the wide sidewalks and the awning on the storefronts. I can still remember the A&P (where Walgreen's is now) and the large coffee grinder at the front of the store.

If you have a particularly strong memory of our downtown, please share it in the comments section of the blog.