Letters as History

“Letters as History”

Letters Trellis will offer vintage postcards this week at the Winchester Farmers Market, thanks to support from the Winchester Historical Society. One of them features a once familiar sight, a trolley in Winchester Square. You can stop by to see a map that shows our community as it lay within a network of 940 miles of street railway lines at the turn of the twentieth century.

This 1899 map shows two street railway lines which went through Winchester, one going from Stoneham to Arlington and the other from Woburn to Medford. In the years before automobiles, residents used them to get to work, school, and other places in neighboring towns, an important destination (after this map was made) being the movie theaters, since Winchester had none until 1937.

The Stoneham line also influenced the site chosen for Winchester Hospital. The fare was one nickel.

The Middlesex Fells was a popular destination for riders from Boston for a day trip to the shores of Spot Pond. According to “Explore Stoneham”, some tracks might still be visible in the Fells, although large parts were dug up for the building of Route I-93 during the 1950’s. (https://www.explorestoneham.com/street-railways.html )

The mapped trolley lines were operated by the Bay State Railway Company, controlled by the Massachusetts Electric Companies. (www.historicnewengland.org ). With the advent of the automobile era, trolley tracks caused some trouble for car tires, so for this and other reasons they gave way to buses.

Letters are tiny pieces of history. When they can be combined with other historical documents, they may give color to a specific event, time and place. That’s why it’s important to indicate the location where a letter is written and the date of its writing. Join us to pen a message from our writing desk or borrow a clipboard and write from the seating on the green. You can use the vintage postcard that features the trolley in Winchester Center and/or our letter stationery as you connect with friends and families from your Town Common. We provide the stamps and send all communications written at the market. Just remember to bring the mailing address!