Railroad History

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Quincy Mass is home of first American working railroad

On the morning of October 7, 1826 in Quincy, Massachusetts, the first railroad in America was officially opened under the direction of engineer Gridley Bryant. The first rail cars carrying huge blocks of granite from the Bunker Hill Quarry were drawn by horses. The rails extended for 2 3/4 miles from the quarries in Quincy Massachusetts to the wharf on the Neponset River.

William Ticknor, a well-known lawyer of the day, suggested erecting of a memorial at the location of the battle of Bunker Hill. The first railroad in the United States would connect a stone quary selected for the occasion with the Bunker Hill Monument.

As the story goes, a group of men with interest in the project met for breakfast at the home of Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins. Others in attendence included the Honorable Daniel Webster, Professor George Ticknor, Doctor John C. Warren, the Honorable William Sullivan, the Honorable George Blake, and William Tudor, Esquire. The group visited the battleground and initiated the task of building a monument.

Today, a section of this right-of-way is preserved as a trail and its famous incline is listed on the National Register, also preserved along with several designs that the company is credited with first implementing. 

A quarry, approximately twelve miles from Bunker Hill, was purchased June 9, 1825, by Gridley Bryant. Bryant paid two hundred and fifty dollars as the consideration. 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.

The inventor of the railroad, Gridley Bryant, through whose efforts and those of Thomas H. Perkins constructed the road from the quarry to the monument site. Bryant's rail road stands as one of the great achievemnets in American history. The work was just one of many railroad improvements in railway machinery, including the eightwheel car, the portable derrick, the switch, and the turntable.