The Huckleberry Trolley Line in Huntington
Courtesy of Debbie Daniels….The Huckleberry Line was opened in stages, finally all the way through to Huntington in the summer of 1917. The first car ran on August 15, with the manager’s 16-year-old daughter at the controls a lot of the way! What my book said was that the line operated for the remainder of that season, but closed a few months later as it couldn’t be economically kept running in winter. By the following year, 1918, wartime conditions (inflation and a labor shortage) had badly affected the Berkshire Company, and the company applied for a subsidy from the towns that the route passed through. Facing pressure of their own, the towns declined to pay.
As a result, the company didn’t operate the line that year, and the following year, as automobiles proliferated and roads improved, the decision was made to abandon the route. That was the beginning of the end for the Berkshire Company in general, along with all the other streetcar lines. Although the Berkshire Company reached Huntington, and the same town was served by streetcars coming up from Springfield, the rails were never linked. If you wanted to make a through journey, you had to walk a few blocks. I wonder if anyone ever made the whole trip, in the short period when it was possible.
This is from the “Electric Railway Journal” for October 1918:Will Abandon Forty-four Miles. When the new tariff of the Berkshire
Street Railway, Pittsfield, Mass, referred to elsewhere in this issue, goes into effect on Nov. 12, service will be discontinued for the present at least on
the “Huckleberry” line from Lee to Huntington and from Great Barrington to Egremont and from Great Barrington to Canaan, Conn.
By this order 44 miles of track will be abandoned as follows: From Lee to Huntington, 24 miles; from Great Barrington to Egremont 7 miles; from
Great Barrington to Canaan, 13 miles. This order will probably mean giving up the power station at Sheffield and transferring the operating base to
Housatonic. It is the hope of the management that it will not be necessary to abandon and scrap any of the company’s property, but for the present at least, it is proposed to discontinue service up on the lines south and west of Great
Barrington and upon the line from Lee to Huntington.
This is necessitated in order that the company may continue a going concern and not be forced to
discontinue service essential to the communities from Great Barrington to the Vermont State line. The management says that without the increase in
revenue coupled with economies to be obtained by a discontinuance of service Now operated at a loss, the property can no longer be run so as to give the
required service to this more densely settled portion of the county.
Cable Anchor, Huntington
These photos are courtesy of Tom Hoffman (Washington Historical Society). We have learned a lot about local history from this man and express our greatest thanks to him. Photos were taken in Lee of an original Trolley Line bridge still intact.
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