Weymouth History Workbook - 3
TRANSPORTATION – PART TWO
Vocabulary words: commuter trolley cars population
As time went on it became more and more important to get to Boston
through Quincy. In 1812 a bridge was built over the Fore River. But it
lasted less than 100 years. By 1902 there was a shipbuilding industry in the
Fore River. Big ships couldn’t get under the bridge. So it had to be
The man who owned the shipyard was Thomas Watson. If his name rings a
bell it’s probably because he was the same Mr. Watson who helped Alexander
Graham Bell invent the telephone. Watson later built ships on the Fore River
and was about to finish a big one. But it wouldn’t fit under the wooden
bridge. Watson’s Company was hired to build a new bridge. It would be a
bridge that opened like a gate.
When Watson’s workers had the bridge finished they waited for high tide
and floated the new bridge to where the old one had been torn down. Then
they waited for low tide and lowered the bridge onto the stone foundation.
In about 30 years this bridge was outdated, too. The Army built a
drawbridge in 1934 which many people still remember because they only
started to take it down in 2004. Traffic on Route 3A now uses a high
As the trails became roads new centers of town appeared along with new
industries. Weymouth Landing became a village because there was a
shipbuilding and later a lumber industry there. In Colonial times the Landing
was on the stagecoach route between Boston and Plymouth. In fact, it was a
stop. Arnold Tavern was located across from the present Sacred Heart
Church property, and the Wales Hotel stood where the church rectory is
now. That’s where the stagecoach pulled up.
When roads were first built they didn’t have names. In 1837, though, the
town picked a committee to name the streets and tell where they were.
They named the streets by the people who lived there or by landmarks. For
“The street leading from the seashore, near Edward Blanchard's to
North Street near James Thomas', shall be called Sea Street.
“The turnpike leading from Ferry Point bridge to Back River bridge
shall be called Bridge Street. “
After a while, transportation routes had little to do with Indian trails and
more with where people wanted to go and how fast they wanted to get there.
Trains, highways and commuter boats followed new routes.
Railroads came first. Its line was built right through Weymouth Landing,
North Weymouth and East Weymouth – just about where the new train line
will run. Another line ran through South Weymouth.
Fifty years later a new transportation system began – the “street railway.”
It connected Weymouth with Quincy and Boston. The vehicles were trolley
cars. They were usually painted orange so you could see them coming. They
were powered first by horses and then by electric lines that ran overhead.
The tracks were in the middle of major streets, and the trolleys stopped at
certain spots to let get on or off. They also had a clanging bell instead of a
The main route ran down Broad St. from Weymouth Landing to Jackson
Square, but they were all over town. For a nickel you could ride anywhere in
Weymouth, and some lines connected to neighboring towns.
The streetcars are gone now and so are the tracks – usually paved over
rather than pulled up – and buses have taken their places. These start and
end at Red Line T stations, so passengers can connect to Boston and
The biggest changes came, though, when cars became popular in the 1920s
and 30s. Not everyone could afford one, and in the early days it was mostly
men who were the drivers. But they allowed you to cover a lot of ground
quickly and go almost anywhere you wanted. You didn’t have to depend on
tracks or overhead wires or bus stops or even schedules.
It’s hard for us to imagine what life was like without them, they’re so much a
part of our lives now, but in the middle of the last century cars brought lots
of people to Weymouth and more houses, too. After the Second World War,
in the late 1940s there was a big jump in the population and the number of
people living in Weymouth reached almost the number it is today.
In the 1960s Route 3 was built to connect Cape Cod and the South Shore
with Boston. As we know, it runs right through the south part of town
dividing South Weymouth from the other sections. It’s a way to get in and
out of Weymouth just as the commuter boats are at Quincy and Hingham.
High-speed boats from Quincy or Hingham can take passengers to the
airport or to downtown Boston in a half hour or less.
The next kind of transportation ws the Old Colony Railroad which began
again in 2007. The new track ran just about where the old one did, and the
trains stop at new stations where the old stations used to be. (The only
thing left from the old railroad stations is the one on Pond Street in South
Weymouth which is now a general store.
So Indian trails became roads. Settlement and then industry followed the
roads. We had transportation built around the horse, then the trolleys and
buses and then cars. We once had a boat to Boston. We now have boats to
Boston. We once had the railroad; soon we’ll have the railroad again.
Transportation has let Weymouth people get around town, get to work, leave
town and come back again. At one time three out of four workers worked in
a single industry – shoemaking. Now we have thousands of people who
commute to a job – many of them in other towns and cities. We don’t know
what’s ahead – probably more changes. But to figure out where we’re going
it helps to know where we’ve been.
1., Tell what the vocabulary words mean.
2. Draw a picture of your favorite kind of transportation – old or new.
3. Why was the bridge over Fore River replaced?
4. How were early streets named?
5. Why did trolley cars need overhead wires?
6. How did Route 3 change Weymouth?
7. How will the new railroad line be like the old one?