Privately Printed for
THE GRANITE RAILWAY COMPANY
In Commemoration of the One Hundredth
Prepared by direction of
Walton Advertising & Printing Co.
Boston, Mass Copyright 1926
QUINCY, Massachusetts, a historic town about eight miles south of Boston, is distinguished the world over as the home of presidents, for here John Adams and John Quincy Adams were born. Shipbuilding, too, has spread the fame of this delightful old town. Many are familiar with the fine granite which for over a century has been quarried here, but few are aware of the important part that Quincy has played in the awakening of America to a new era in transportation. On the morning of October 7, 1826, at Quincy, the first railroad in America was opened, and under the direction of a young engineer by the name of Gridley Bryant, the first cars drawn by horses passed over it, carrying huge blocks of granite from the Bunker Hill Quarry to a wharf on the Neponset River, a distance of two and three-quarters miles.
To grasp the full significance of this event, we must know something of the condition of the country in 1826, for, crude as the little railway may seem to us today, it was, nevertheless, the germ from which the whole gigantic railroad system of America has sprung. To build even Gridley Bryant's rough but mechanically perfect contrivance was, in 1826, considered by many of the country's citizens as "visionary and chimerical," and it would not have been built at that time were it not for the patriotic motive behind it as the most expeditious means of transporting granite for the erection of the Bunker Hill Monument.
A century is but a short period, yet during the last hundred years the world has changed, upon the mechanical side at least, far more than ever before in the annals of history. With the industrial revolution there came inven- tion, in almost every line of human endeavor, to expedite production, this in itself demanded improved methods of transportation that the increased production might be properly handled. Let us pause and consider what other countries were doing regarding this problem, that we may have a background to judge this nation's efforts in 1826.
The railroads, which were so inevitable, had their origin in crudities that formed themselves at Newcastle, on the river Tyne, England, for here wagon-ways existed as early as the middle of the sixteenth century, to facilitate handling coal from the pits to the river bank.
A little imagination will show the evolution of the highway, which resulted in the railway. Heavy carts loaded with coal continually passed between the mines and the river, and in the process of time ruts were worn which in periods of rainy weather made the roads nearly impassable. The solution was quite simple - strips or rails of wood were placed in these ruts to prevent further wear on the road's surface. As new roads were built, the rails were placed directly on the surface, and as it was found difficult to keep the wagon wheels on the planks, side pieces or flanges were added.
"The manner of the carriage," says Lord Keeper North in 1676, "is by laying rails of timber . . exactly straight and parallel, and bulky carts are made with four rowlets fitting these rails, whereby the carriage is so easy that one horse will draw down four or five chaldrons of coals" (from 10.6 to 13.2 tons). The planks were usually of beech and were fastened down end to end on logs or "sleepers," placed crosswise at intervals of two or three feet.
As the idea became more generally known, a thin sheath- ing of iron was added to the wooden rail to preserve its life; but it was found that the iron, although it did indeed prolong the life of the rail, caused much more wear on the wooden rollers or wheels of the wagons. This led, by the middle of the eighteenth century, to the introduction of iron wheels, and their use on a wooden railway near Bath, England, was recorded in 1734. It was found that the iron plate or sheathing which had been applied to the wooden rail was not strong enough to resist buckling under the passage of loaded wagons, and to remedy this defect an attempt was made to construct an all-iron rail. The first all-iron rails, known as the "plate rail," were made at the Colebrookdale Iron Works in 1767. The style is most interesting, each rail was three feet long and four inches wide, and on the inner side was an upright ledge or flange three inches high at the centre and tapering to two and a half inches at the ends, for the purpose of keeping the flat wheels on the track. An attempt was later made to increase the strength by adding another flange below the rail. Wooden sleepers continued to be used, and the rails were secured to them by spikes. About 1793 stone blocks were employed, and Benjamin Outram was credited with the innovation.
The first railroad in the United States came into being through the erection of the Bunker Hill Monument. William Ticknor, a well-known lawyer and antiquarian of the day, was the first to suggest the erection of a memo- rial on the scene of the battle. He desired "the noblest column in the world" to mark the spot. A group of men who felt deeply interested in the erection of the monument met for breakfast at the home of Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins, and among them were the Honorable Daniel Webster, Professor George Ticknor, Doctor John C. Warren, the Honorable William Sullivan, the Honorable George Blake, and William Tudor, Esquire. They visited the battle- ground, and consulted in reference to building a monument.
On May 10, 1823, the first public meeting was called, and the gentlemen who attended formed an association to procure an act of incorporation authorizing them as trustees to collect and hold subscriptions for the purpose of erect- ing an enduring monument. Each member subscribed five dollars, and on June 7, 1823, the Bunker Hill Monument Association was established and the work of raising money was begun.
In the spring of 1825 the directors had secured the title to the land and purchased the slope of Breed's Hill - about fifteen acres - and made other necessary prepara- tions, but had not matured the plan of the proposed monument. The first committee on design consisted of Daniel Webster, Loammi Baldwin, George Ticknor, Gilbert Stewart, and Washington Allston. One hundred dollars was offered for the best design, and in response about fifty plans were presented in drawings and models. Choice was soon narrowed to two, one a column and the other an obelisk, and a new committee was appointed to procure designs and estimates of the expense of each. At the next meeting the majority voted that the obelisk be used, and at this period the directors chose to lay the corner-stone on June 17, 1825. Lafayette performed the ceremony, Daniel Webster delivered the oration, and the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, conducted the services. The celebration was unequalled by anything previously seen in New England.
While the board of directors was engaged in devising plans to obtain the wherewithal to build, Willard was seeking a suitable material with which to construct. He took care to inform himself on the subject of monu- ments generally, and especially of their peculiar charac- teristics, the nature of the material used, and the manner of construction. Before the design was decided upon, he spent much time and energy exploring the country in pursuit of a quarry from which he could obtain blocks of sufficient size for the purpose and in a location to be made available with existing means of transportation. The result of his journeyings was the selection of what has since become known as the "Bunker Hill" quarry in Quincy.
The quarry was purchased June 9, 1825, by Gridley Bryant from Frederick Hardwick. The conveyance was of "all the rocks or stones on and in a certain piece of wood- land, lying in the Town of Quincy aforesaid, in the `Furnis Lotts' so called, and was part of the estate of Nathaniel Savil, containing four acres, more or less . . " Bryant paid two hundred and fifty dollars as the consideration. The quarry is a little more than twelve miles from Bunker Hill.
"On recommendation of the Superintendent, they then proceeded to examine a ledge of rocks discovered by him in the town of Quincy, and found there a magnificent range of granite containing materials inexhaustible. . . " The quarry was opened and worked, and "its excellence fully answered the expectations that had been formed." Solomon Willard, who was known as the father of the granite industry in the United States, was born in 1783, in Petersham, Massachusetts, where as a boy he worked on his father's farm in the summer, and in his carpentry shop during the dull winter months. Like so many boys of his time, he had the advantages of only a common schooling, so that when he came of age in 1804 and set out for Boston to seek work and learn a trade, he came as a "rough ashlar." The boy was born to success, and although his first positions were lowly enough they sufficed to carry him on to greater things.
The trade that Willard favored was carpentry, and in this direction he turned all his attention and energy, work- ing conscientiously during the day and studying archi- tecture and drawing at night. During this period his hobby was wood carving, and this later proved his forte, for he was chosen to execute the Ionic and Corinthian capitals for the steeple of Park Street Church, and in 1810 he carved the eagle which was placed upon the apex of the pediment of the Custom House.
Willard continued as a carver, and in 1823 added to his architectural work that of ship carving. In 1818 he made a model of the capitol at Washington for Charles Bulfinch, and later did several works ofthis sort, among which were models of the Pantheon and the Parthenon for Edward Everett. From wood carving he turned to stone carving, and in 1820 was engated on the stone work ofSt Paul's Church. By 1821 Willard had become so suc- cessful that he gave classes in architecture and drawing in his studio near St Paul's.
The great work of Solomon Willard, the Bunker Hill Monument, was completed in 1843, and his connection with the Association was one of the factors that brought ultimate success. When asked upon what terms he would give his whole time to the work, he replied that he thought "the interests of the association would be best served by having the services gratuitous," but that three dollars a day would be sufficient if payment was to be made. He finally accepted a sum sufficient to pay his expenses. Previous to his election as architect and superintendent, Willard said, "A Building Committee should be chosen who are favor- ably disposed to the design, and who will unite heartily in carrying it into execution. . . . The services of the com- mittee and agents should be gratuitous, as the honor of the employment should be sufficient compensation . . ." In the year 1849, Amos Lawrence, secretary of the Build- ing Committee, wrote in a blank leaf preceding the rec- ords of the committee, the following, "Solomon Willard walked three hundred miles to examine granite quarries (Hallowell, Maine, and other places), gave a thousand dollars to the Monument Association, and worked like a dog for the association for years for merely his necessary expenses (which were very small), and is now at work at Quincy." In 1846 Amos Lawrence wrote ". . . but the work is done, and posterity ought to know that they are more indebted to Solo Willard than to any other person, for the monument. It was by his labors and taste that the plan was adopted and the stone quarry secured, the work done in a style that will be approved by generations to come. Let us render, then, to Mr. Willard, the honor that belongs to him."
It is most difficult to give an estimate of a man's person- ality if one knows him only through the writings of others, for there is always the possibility of error. Yet when one gathers, from various sources, information that in the end proves cohesive, certain deductions are inevitable. In a letter to Edward Everett, Willard said ". . many of my friends are in the habit of adding an Esq., to my name in the superscriptions of their letters, supposing me possessed of the little vanity which it would gratify; but as I have no claim to such distinction, it would be more pleasing to have it omitted." It is a little thing, but shows the man as few things could. He was reputed as being gentle- mannered, amiable, obliging, kind, careful, faithful, and considerate, yet withal it seems, from the tone of his biographers, that one would be led to believe him a man lacking in the finer markings, for while he was "thought- ful, studious, and industrious," he was a man who played practically never. Frivolity in any form was for him an impossibility, for he was of the type that takes his play in work, and admirable as the trait may be, it serves as nothing else could to rob him of the complete understanding and sympathy of his fellows. In appearance, Willard was sedate and grave, in both facial expression and dress, he was tall and stout, and of slow movement, it being said that he was hardly ever known to run. He was a man with no family of his own, a man with unbounded will, a man who practiced self-restraint and discipline at all times, a man born for work, for accomplishment, and for success. At the end of six months, under Willard's supervision, more than three thousand tons of stone had been split from the bed and lay in form ready to roll down the railway as soon as it was opened.
The first railroad in America, known as the Granite Railway, like the majority of early enterprises, was destined to meet considerable opposition, involving, as it did, the right of eminent domain for what was considered then nothing but a dream and for years later little more than an experiment. The origin of the road is interesting. In 1824 Joshua Torrey, of Quincy, began to build a canal to save part of the long cartage for granite, and in the following year some enterprising citizens formed the Quincy Canal Corporation, and enabled small sloops to approach within a mile of the quarries in Quincy. Both of these enterprises ended in failure. But canals were the only mode of transportation the public cared to consider. In 1825 the Erie Canal was opened, and the dream of passage from Lake Ontario to New York City by an inland water route was realized. This accomplishment meant much, of course, to the town of New York, as it immedi- ately became the source of supply for the whole district thus opened Commercially, it was one of the great achieve- ments in the city's history, and indirectly the undertaking had a most beneficial effect on the town of Boston. It was not that the Erie Canal took trade away from New England, but it was the idea that the advent of successful canal communication spelled doom to the Hub; for inland navigation demanded rivers, and in rivers of any importance Boston was indeed poor.
As early as 1791, which shows that Bostonians were honestly trying to improve their condition, a project was agitated to connect Worcester County with the Hub, and a route was surveyed by General Knox, but the idea was discarded because the proposed Blackstone Canal to Provi- dence had quite as many supporters, and through the jealousies of the two factions nothing came of either project at the time.
In 1825, therefore, the whole experience of Boston with canals was limited to the Middlesex, which had been started in 1794 and completed in 1803 at a cost of one-half million dollars, a tremendous amount when one considers that the whole town of Boston at that time had the assessed value of only fifteen millions. Financially, the undertaking was a failure. After 1835, traffic fell off rapidly and receipts failed to meet the expenses of repair, as a result, the business was finally suspended in 1853 and the charter declared forfeited in 1859.
For twenty-two years the Middlesex Canal had been operating, when Governor Dewitt Clinton of New York in October, 1825, made his triumphal passage in a state barge from Lake Ontario to the mouth of the Hudson. Massachusetts had not waited for this to stir itself, for practical men were busy, and had been for some time, turning over plans and making estimates for a canal, like the Middlesex, from Boston to Worcester at least, and perhaps as far as the Connecticut. Among the more visionary, the proposed canal was seen reaching as far as the Hudson. It is extremely interesting to note that Loammi Baldwin in 1825 proposed to build a canal tunnel where fifty years later the present Hoosac Tunnel was opened. It is said that Colonel Baldwin declined to serve on the Building Com- mittee of the Monument Association, partly for the reason that he was engaged on a survey of a canal between the Hudson River and the Boston Harbor. The reports and estimates of the Canal Commissioners were laid before the State Legislature on January 4, 1826, the very day on which the petition for the incorporation of The Granite Railway Company was also presented. Had the railroad not proved a success, we should have had, instead of the two excellent lines of railroads which cross the State, Colonel Baldwin's gigantic canal flowing through the Hoosac Tunnel and meandering along valleys between Boston Harbor and the Hudson River. In view of the popularity of canals in the mind of the public, as the most expeditious means of transportation the Granite Railway would probably not have been undertaken at the time but for the patriotic motive connected with it. It is, therefore, justi- fiable to say we should not, as early as 1825, have adopted this species of internal improvement, regarded even at a later period as an experiment, except for the erection of the Bunker Hill Monument.
In the fall of 1825, Gridley Bryant consulted Colonel T. H Perkins, David Moody, Amos Lawrence, William Sullivan, Solomon Willard, and Isaac Davis with plans and drawings for a railroad; and though the group as a whole, a prominent body of citizens, were not overen- thused by the idea, their desire to hasten work on the Bunker Hill Monument won from them a consent to see what could be done.
In January, 1826, the following petition was presented to the Massachusetts State Legislature:
JANUARY 4, 1826.
To THE HONORABLE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-
TIVES, OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS IN
GENERAL COURT ASSEMBLED
The undersigned petitioners represent that it would be of great public utility to establish a Railway from Certain Quarries in the town of Quincy to the tidewaters, for the carrying of Stone to be used in Building; that your peti- tioners are disposed to establish the same, or to aid in effecting it; but that it will require a voluntary subscrip- tion, and employment of a large sum of money, and that such a sum can only be obtained by extending the sub- scription among many persons, and that it would greatly facilitate the enterprise if those who are in it should act under corporate powers.
Wherefore these petitioners pray that they may be incor- porated under the name of The Granite Railway Company with such powers and duties as to the Legislature may seem just and proper.
THOMAS H. PERKINS, WM. SULLIVAN, AMOS LAWRENCE,
SOLOMON WILLARD, DAVID MOODY, GRIDLEY BRYANT.
The matter was seemingly irrelevant, for the proposal, presented by the group under the leadership of Gridley Bryant, included no clause pertaining to general trans- portation, but it did introduce an idea new to New Englanders - the idea of a railroad. The bill was passed on March 4, 1826, and the group became a corporation with Thomas H. Perkins as president. On April 1 of the same year, ground was broken for the construction of the first railroad in America.
The inventor of this railroad, Gridley Bryant, through whose efforts and those of Thomas H. Perkins the road was constructed, stands in the front rank of pioneer engineers in America, and has to his credit a long list of important improvements in railway machinery, including the eight- wheel car, the portable derrick, the switch, and the turn- table. The construction and designing necessitated a thorough knowledge of the various experiments made in England as well as a certain ingenuity in meeting successfully the peculiar needs of a railroad for hauling huge slabs of granite.
Bryant's work excited unparalleled interest throughout the country, and today his accomplishment is cited in every school history of the United States as the beginning of an epoch. Bryant had closely studied all the literature that appeared with the development of the English rail- ways, and although Stephenson had already, in a rather rough way, introduced steam as a power of locomotion, Bryant attempted nothing of the sort - to have done so would have ruined his enterprise.
The best description of the road is found in a letter
written by Gridley Bryant to a friend in which he says
. . . The deepest cutting was fifteen feet, and the highest elevation above the surface of the ground was twelve feet. The several grades were as follows: the first, commencing at the wharf or landing, was twenty-six feet to the mile, the second thirteen feet, and the third thirty-six feet. This brought us to the foot of the table-lands that ran around the main quarry; here an elevation of eighty-four feet verti- cal was to be overcome. This was done by an inclined plane, three hundred and fifteen feet long, at an angle of about fifteen degrees. It had an endless chain, to which the cars were attached in ascending or descending. At the head of this inclined plane I constructed a swing platform to receive the loaded cars as they came from the quarry. This platform was balanced by weights, and had gearing attached to it in such a manner that it would always return (after having dumped) to a horizontal position, being firmly supported on the periphery of an eccentric cam. When the cars were out on the platform there was danger of their running entirely over, and I constructed a self-acting guard, that would rise above the surface of the rail upon the platform as it rose from its connection with the inclined plane, or receded out of the way when the loaded car passed on the track; the weight of the car depressing the platform as it was lowered down. I also constructed a turn-table at the foot of the quarry, which is still in use (1859) as originally constructed. The railroad was continued at different grades around the quarry, the highest part of which was ninety-three feet above the general level, on the top of this was erected an obelisk or monument forty-five feet high.
Parts of the old road are still in existence, and passing southerly over the route of the first railroad in America may be seen one of the old railroad frogs and a section of the superstructure now standing at Squantum Street, East Milton, on the line of the Granite Branch of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. This frog and old stone rail were exhibited at the Chicago Fair.
The first cost of the Granite Railway is said to have been $50,000, and it ran from "the Furnis Lott" and several of the quarries in Quincy through East Milton to a wharf which was built at an expense of $30,000 at the elbow in the Neponset River not far from Granite Bridge. The old wharf is still in existence and is now a part of the Metro- politan Park System. The road-bed, deep enough to be beyond the reach of frost, was built of crushed granite, and the sleepers were made of stone, placed eight feet apart, on which rested wooden rails twelve inches high. On top of the rail was an iron plate three inches wide and one-quarter of an inch thick which was fastened with spikes, but at all places where the railroad crossed public highways, stone rails were used with an iron plate four inches wide and one-quarter inch thick bolted firmly to the stone. The inclined plane was built in the same substantial manner, and had a double track. The gauge of the track was five feet. As the original wooden rails began to decay, they were replaced with stone rails, similar to the rails of the inclined plane.
On account of its construction, the upkeep of the road for many years was less than ten dollars a year. The first car built by Bryant cost six hundred dollars, and its construction is interesting enough to record in some detail. It had high wheels, six and one-half feet in diameter, the load being suspended on a platform under the axles by chains. This platform was let down at any convenient place and loaded, the car was then run over the load, the chains attached to the platform, and the loaded platform raised a little above the track by machinery on the top of the car. The loads averaged about six tons each. About seven years after the road was opened, a fatal accident occurred on it, which was the first railroad acci- dent in New England, if not in the United States. On July 25, 1832, four men left the Tremont House in Boston for Quincy to inspect the new railway enterprise. After having seen the process of transporting large and weighty loads of stone, they were invited to ascend the inclined plane on one of the vacant returning cars. While going up, the chain gave way and the men were precipitated over a cliff, a distance of thirty or forty feet. One member of the party was killed, the others quite seriously injured. The railroad was considered by every one as a novelty and as a wonderful accomplishment. Visitors traveled long distances to see it in operation, and so great was the rush that one of the enterprising citizens opened a tavern, near where the highway from Boston to Quincy crossed the railroad track, and carried on a thriving business catering to the many sight-seers. Among those who came to see the railway was Daniel Webster, who had been attending a funeral in the vicinity. After a critical examination he hazarded the opinion that railroads would bear some study, but it was not until many years later that the great orator and statesman would admit them a success. As a splendid example of the ignorance prevalent, even in the minds of educated people, on the subject of railroads, Daniel Webster is cited as a person who was for a long time inclined to believe that operation by means of locomotives could never be a success because, for one thing, he thought the frost on the rails in winter would be an insuperable obstacle. An interesting light is also thrown upon the speed of our early railway systems through the pages of an early essay on railroads. In this pamphlet a young Philadelphian refers to New England as a place "where long continuance of frost affords uninterrupted sleighing, which is almost equal to railroad communication." It is curious that so important an affair as the opening of the first railroad in America excited so little comment on the part of the public. In the Boston Daily Advertiser for October 9, 1826, two days after the railroad was com- pleted, we find but a modest account of this event which was destined to revolutionize the transportation ideas of this country. The account contains no heading and reads as follows:
This railroad, the first we believe in this country, was opened on Saturday in the presence of a number of gentle- men who take an interest in the experiment. A quantity of stone weighing sixteen tons, taken from the ledge belonging to the Bunker Hill Association, and loaded on three wagons, which together weigh five tons, making a load of twenty-one tons, was moved with ease by a single horse from the quarry to the landing above Neponset Bridge, a dis- tance of more than three miles. The road declines gradually the whole way from the quarry to the landing, but so slightly that the horse conveyed back the empty wagons, making a load of five tons.
After the starting of the load, which required some exertion, the horse moved at ease in a fast walk. It may, therefore, be easily conceived how greatly transportation of heavy loads is facilitated by means of this road. A large quantity of beautiful stone already prepared for the Bunker Hill Monument will now be rapidly and cheaply transported to the wharf at the termination of the rail- road, whence it will be conveyed by lighters to Charles- town. We learn from a gentleman who has visited the principal railroads in England, that in point of solidarity and skill in construction, this is not exceeded by any one there. The account closes with a brief description of the con- struction of the railroad.
The press and many of those who witnessed the perform- ance of the railroad had nothing but the highest praise for Gridley Bryant's wonderful "contrivance" George Crocker in "From Stage Coach to the Railroad Train," writes: "It was built so substantially and attracted so much atten- tion that it may be regarded as the germ from which the railroad in America has sprung." The newspaper account written at the time of the opening was most enthusiastic, and in later years, when railroads were well established in the United States, and when Bryant had retired from The Granite Railway Company, he is quoted as having said. "All the cars, trucks, and machinery are my original inventions I never began work of any kind without thor- oughly investigating the principles and proportions that would produce the greatest effect, and in building the cars, tracks, and machinery for the inclined plane and all the twisting apparatus, none of my first productions were ever altered by myself, nor has any new machinery been sub- stituted or alterations made by those who have had the management of the road from the time I left it to this day, most of my original machinery being in use at the present time."
Gridley Bryant was born in Scituate, Massachusetts, in 1789, and at the time he submitted his plans for a railroad, he was only thirty-six years old. His father died while Gridley was quite young and left his family dependent upon its own resources, which after all was probably more of a blessing to Gridley than a handicap, for while necessity begets hard work, plenty is conducive to inactivity. In speaking of his childhood, Bryant once said "Having a mechanical and inventive turn of mind, I always man- aged to get along comfortably. I was generally at the head of the young urchins of our neighborhood, and when there was a fort to be constructed, or a cabin to be built, in our plays, I was always appointed chief engineer, by common consent, and some of our juvenile structures are still in existence."
At the age of fifteen, Bryant was apprenticed by his mother to a prominent builder in Boston, and during the period he served showed great promise. When he became of age, he started in business on his own account, and met with every success from the very first. He made contracts with the United States Government as well as with private individuals because of his industry and skill. On October 1, 1834, a patent was granted Ross Winans of Baltimore for an eight-wheel railroad car which he pro- posed to use on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the pioneer line of the Middle Atlantic States. Later Winans entered suit against the New York and Erie Railroad for infringement of his patent. The case was a test case, and Mr. Winans undoubtedly intended, if he won, to collect royalties from all the railroads in the country. No railroad invention ever gave rise to more controversy, and in no case was greater talent employed on both sides of the question. About five years of time and two hundred fifty thousand dollars were expended in the litigation before a final decision was obtained against the patent and the immense claims advanced under it. Gridley Bryant's car was put in evidence against the validity of the Winans patent and the jury found a verdict against the patent upon a legal construction given to the specification by the presid- ing judge. A writ of error was taken to the Supreme Court of the United States which confirmed the decision of the lower court. What Winans really did was to develop Gridley Bryant's idea of an eight-wheel car into a form that could be used in trains at high speed, but his claims were too broad and covered the invention of the whole car. Although the decision confirmed Bryant as the inventor of the eight-wheel car, he did not benefit financially from it, as the railroads ignored their obligations to him. Bryant died poor and almost discouraged, for though a tremendous fortune had been within his grasp, he had not been able to realize it. At his home in Scituate, in 1867, when dying, he motioned his attendants to place him in an arm-chair by the window, and so, overlooking a beauti- ful, familiar view, he spent the last few minutes of his life. In any account of the first railroad, honors must be equally divided between Gridley Bryant and Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins, for Colonel Perkins was really the one who made possible the first railroad in America. The idea of Gridley Bryant to build such a road had seemed to the other men associated in the enterprise as highly visionary; and, though they were of some help in obtain- ing an act of incorporation from the Legislature, their interest dwindled when demands were made for their finan- cial backing. It is said that few of the original members of the corporation ever paid dues or assessments and that eventually the owner of the entire stock was Colonel Perkins.
Colonel Perkins in his youth was employed by the Messrs. Shattuck, one of the most active firms of mer- chants in Boston at one time. In 1789 he first turned his attention to China, going out as supercargo on the Astr_a, which was owned by Elias Hasket Derby, often called the King of Salem Merchants. The Astr_a, a few years later, was the first vessel to carry our flag to Manila. Just after the fall of Robespierre, Colonel Perkins wit- nessed the guillotining of the revolutionary Attorney- General Tinville and his jury, sixteen persons being beheaded in the short space of twelve minutes. While in Paris, at the suggestion of President Monroe he arranged for the transportation to America of George Washington. Lafayette, on a ship commanded by Captain Thomas Sturgis, a brother of Russell Sturgis, who married the Colonel's daughter. Young Lafayette lived with General Washington at Mount Vernon for one year, and when Colonel Perkins returned home he was asked to visit Washington and receive the General's thanks for the help he had rendered the young Frenchman. In the room where Colonel Perkins slept was a picture of Lafayette, and in the main hall was the key of the Bastille. As a testimonial of President Washington's admiration of Colonel Perkins, he offered him the Secretaryship of the Navy. The latter politely refused the position, saying that he owned a larger fleet of vessels than the United States Navy pos- sessed and believed he could do more good by continuing to manage his own property.
The story of Colonel Perkins' death best illustrates the great strength of character that made him so successful in his business, most of which was conducted with China. When he was dying his sister begged him to leave his chair and go to his bed, to which he replied with decision, "Certainly not, I have always proposed to die dressed and sitting in my chair." And he did! During the funeral ser- vices the merchants of Boston closed their offices, a recogni- tion shown to few others, also the bells of the city were tolled for one hour, and the scores of vessels in the harbor displayed their colors at half-mast. During the burial ser- vices the children of the choir from the Perkins Institution for the Blind, which had been founded chiefly through his generosity, sang a requiem.
America's development in railroads and their appur- tenances was somewhat delayed owing to the fact that in the entire country there were so few establishments where one could obtain iron for rail construction. In ideas the new country was rich, but in demonstration and experi- ence poor indeed. Colonel John Stevens published in 1812 a pamphlet called "Documents," "tending to prove the superior advantages of Rail-Ways and Steam Carriages over Canal Navigation." His arguments, seen in the light of our greater knowledge today, were safe and sound, but the Legislature lacked confidence. In 1817 he received a charter "to build a railroad from the river Delaware, near Trenton, to the river Raritan, near New Brunswick." This undoubtedly was the earliest charter of a railroad granted in America. Although in 1823 he, with two others, organ- ized the movement that finally resulted in the incorpora- tion of the Pennsylvania Railroad, it was Gridley Bryant and Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins with their modest and simple Granite Railway who introduced the new mode of transportation in America.
In 1829, William Jackson, who was probably the original advocate of government ownership of railroads in this country, delivered an address before the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association in favor of the State issuing bonds to build and own a railroad between Boston and Albany. He cited the success of the Granite Railway and said in his opinion nothing could so effectually develop commerce and communication between heretofore separate and remote districts. Many other men were quick to recognize the advantages of a railroad, and it was not long before the fame of the first railroad in America had spread throughout the country.
On January sixteenth of the year 1829 a "Report of the Board of Directors of Internal Improvements of the State of Massachusetts on the Practicability and Expedi- ency of a Rail-Road from Boston to the Hudson River, and from Boston to Providence" was submitted to the General Court. Having witnessed the success of the Granite Rail- way, the Directors felt that the State should not delay in perfecting this mode of transportation. To quote their report. "It would be taking much too narrow a view of the advantages of a Rail Road, to consider only the accommodation which it would afford to the present amount of business. It needs no argument to show that many articles of the produce of the country would be transported upon it which are not now carried to market, because the cost of transportation exceeds their saleable value, when at market." They argued, and rightly, the advantages of trade to be derived from the free exchange of the productions of the inland parts of the State for those of the sea and foreign countries, and that "the quan- tity of goods exchanged would be augmented in some measure in proportion to the diminished cost of trans- portation." A thorough investigation of trade conditions was made by the Board, and some of the statistics are most interesting in the light of today. It was computed that one hundred and twenty thousand cords of firewood were consumed annually in Boston, Cambridge, and Charles- town, of which amount 100,000 cords were brought by sea navigation, 9,000 cords by the Middlesex Canal, and the remainder by wagon from neighboring towns. A rail- road would make accessible the vast reserves in the western part of the State. It would also, the Directors thought, greatly stimulate trade in towns such as West Springfield, which annually sent 36,000 bushels of rye to Springfield but to no distant market because of great expense involved in the existing mode of transportation, in the towns sur- rounding Boston, as the latter town then secured a great quantity of its hay by the water route from Maine; and in a town in the extreme western part of the State which raised fine potatoes, but for the same reason could find no distant market because of transportation expenses being more than importation from Europe. To quote the report: "The fine building stone of Chester, as well as the marble of Berkshire County, would probably be in demand for this was the average distance a horse could cover, was considered a very desirable rate of speed. In those days, it was essential that the most level route possible be fol- lowed, as any inclination was hard on the horse. Further- more, with the lack of modern machinery, a d_tour was about the only means of avoiding undulations, and where even this failed, extra power, by means of the addition of one or more horses, was resorted to. After completing a series of investigations, the directors finally selected the southern route passing through Worces- ter and Springfield to Albany as the one "presenting the fewest problems and at the same time accommodating the largest population." Within a few years this road and also the Boston and Providence road were under construction, and transportation had a rebirth leading to the present rail- road system of America - the most efficient in the world. The little Granite Railroad built by Gridley Bryant and fostered by Thomas H Perkins had shown the way, and in order "to reap the fruits of the soil and gather the gifts of nature," to revive "trade in the circle of which Boston formed the commercial center" and thus compete with New York, "to stimulate foreign trade by opening up inland markets, to multiply the sources and secure the permanency of prosperity, to enhance the value of pros- perity, to promote a growth of population, business, and wealth throughout the State," the Boston and Albany and Boston and Providence Railroads were finally constructed - a direct result of the Granite Railway, the first in America. The Granite Railway and the Bunker Hill Monument served yet another purpose, for they were the causes of the change in the stone quarries of Quincy which had been untouched up till the year 1825. The Monument spread the fame of Quincy granite, and the railroad facili- tated its handling. Until 1825 only surface boulders had been used, and this material was used in the construction of King's Chapel, the first building ever constructed of granite. In the light of our present-day methods of work- ing granite, the practices of years ago seem primitive, as indeed they were, for the rocks were broken, into some kind of shape, by letting large iron balls fall on the heated blocks. In 1803, on a Sunday, three men, Josiah Bemis, George Stearns, and Michael Wild appeared at Newcomb's Tavern and called for a dinner with which they might properly celebrate an accomplishment which they had just successfully performed, for they had that day (contrary to the laws of the community) split a large stone by the use of iron wedges. It was an event of utmost importance, for the crust of the syenite hills was broken. There fol- lowed the opening of quarries, slowly at first, for men did not know how to work the rock nor did they have the proper tools or appliances. Such stone as was taken was roughly dressed and used for door steps, foundations, and gable walls.
Quincy granite or syenite is composed of quartz, feld- spar, and hornblende, the hornblende taking the place of mica in granite proper. The substitution of the hard horn- blende for the soft mica gives to Quincy syenite the hard- ness for which it is noted and its power of resistance to the action of the weather, its crushing test is 17,000 pounds to the square inch. The famous Egyptian obelisks and pyramids are world renowned for their durability and wonderful preservation through centuries of time, and the Egyptian syenite of which they are built accounts for their successful resistance to the destructive elements. Quincy syenite is of analogous formation and composition, and in polished work particularly its superiority asserts itself. It takes a brilliant polish, and the hardness and im- penetrable lustre of the surface always preserve its beauty. The polishing of granite, which was one of the lost arts for many years, was employed in decorating the interior of the Egyptian pyramids.
It is interesting, in conclusion, to take a bird's-eye view of the early development of the railroads after the con- struction of the Granite Railway of Quincy, the first rail- road in America. In 1828, ground was broken for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and on August 8, 1829, the first steam locomotive, "The Stourbridge Lion," was used in transportation by the Delaware and Hudson Com- pany. On August 28, 1830, the Baltimore and Ohio Rail- road opened and Peter Cooper's "Tom Thumb," the first American steam locomotive to run on American railroads, was successfully operated; while on November 2, 1830, "The Best Friend of Charleston" made its successful trip on the South Carolina Railroad. This was the first American locomotive built for actual use on the first railroad on which steam was used as a motive power from the com- pletion of the road. The "West Point" was the second locomotive built in the United States for service on this same railroad, and its trial trip was on March 5, 1831. On August 9, 1831, the "De Witt Clinton," the first locomotive to draw passenger cars ever run in the State of New York, made its first excursion trip, and from this early day on the story of the development of the railroad system in America fills volumes.