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Woonsocket Street Railroad

Woonsocket's street railroad provided convenient and inexpensive transportation that allowed for the continued growth of the city as a retail and industrial center. Before street cars and trolleys, most city residents were restricted to the distance they could walk on foot. The street railroad enable the average worker to live in one section of the city and work or shop in another.

First horse car run on the Woonsocket Street Railway in 1887 (Woonsocket Library Historical Picture Collection) The Woonsocket Street Railroad Company was incorporated in May 1887. Its first street car ran in August of that year when a line was completed from Monument Square to the Globe Village. By 1889, street cars were operating from School Street in the Social District to the Globe Village; from Bernon on Park Avenue and Hamlet Avenue to the Privilege Mill Complex; and from Monument Square to Blackstone by North Main Street and Harris Avenue. Initially, there were four summer and six winter cars pulled by horses. A central station was maintained at the Providence and Worcester Railroad Station in Depot Square. By 1893, all of the street railroad cars were operated by electric power and lines had been extended to Millville in the northwest, to Slatersville in the west and to Manville in the east. Street car in front of the 1874 Social Mill at the turn of the century (Woonsocket Harris Public Library)

By 1906, there were trolley lines on all of Woonsocket's major streets and more than 70 miles of trolley lines emanated from the city. The first part of the century also saw street railroad companies actively promoting resorts and amusement parks. Hoag Pond (Silver Lake) in Bellingham and Taft Pond (Lake Nipmuc) in Mendon were popular destinations. With the trolleys, the average worker could now travel some distance from home during his precious leisure time. By the 1930's, street car service in Woonsocket was discontinued and was replaced by buses.

This page utilizes information from:

  • History of Providence County Rhode Island edited by Richard M. Bayles and published by W. W. Peston & Co., New York, 1891
  • Woonsocket - Highlights of History 1800-1976 written by Alton Pickering Thomas, MD and published by the Woonsocket Opera House Society in 1973.
  • Woonsocket, Rhode Island - A Centennial History 1888 - 1988 published by the Woonsocket Centennial Committee in 1988.
For Woonsocket residents, these books are available at the Woonsocket Harris Public Library.

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