Monday, October 31, 2016

Turnpike Travel

First I'd like to give a definition of what a Turnpike is: Taken from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Main Entry: turn·pike
Pronunciation: \ˈtərn-ˌpīk\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English turnepike revolving frame bearing spikes and serving as a barrier, from turnen to turn + pike
Date: 1678
1 : tollgate
2 a (1) : a road (as an expressway) for the use of which tolls are collected (2) : a road formerly maintained as a turnpike b : a main road; especially : a paved highway with a rounded surface

During the 19th century you can find the development of many turnpikes. Here's an excerpt from a History of Western Massachusetts © 1855 that will give you an idea of how so many turnpikes came into being and the moods of the people in the 19th century regarding these turnpikes.

Turnpikes were largely multiplied after the close of the Revolutionary War and the Shays Rebellion, to meet the exigencies of increasing business and population, and the general poverty of the towns and counties. On the 8th of March, 1797, Asaph White, Jesse King and their associates were incorporated as " The Second Massachusetts Turnpike Corporation," for the purpose of laying out and making a turnpike road from the west line of Charlemont, to the west foot of Hoosac Mountain in Adams, with the privilege of collecting tolls of passengers. On the 19th of June, 1801, Ezra Marvin, Elihu Stow and a hundred others, more or less, were incorporated as " The Eleventh Massachusetts Turnpike Corporation," for the purpose of building a road, " to begin at the south line of Massachusetts, at or near the ending of the turnpike road lately established by the Legislature of the State of Connecticut; thence into and through the East parish of Granville to Blandford meeting house, and from thence through the town street in Blandford, by the usual Pittsfield road, so called, and into the town of Becket by the same road, until it connects with the road of the Eighth Turnpike Corporation." This latter corporation was established on the 24th of February, 1800, Joseph Stebbins, James S. Dwight, and George Bliss, being the leading names in the act. The road began at the line between Westfield and Russell, near Westfield River, running near the river through parts of the towns of Russell and Blandford, to a point then known as Falley's store; thence by the West Branch of the river through parts of Blandford and Chester, until it reached what was known as the Government road, by which it ran to Becket, connecting with the road from Blandford to Pittsfield; thence by the usual road from Becket meeting house to Pittsfield line. The Third Massachusetts Turnpike Corporation was established March 9th, 1797. The leading names in the act of incorporation were Jonah Brewster, Elisha Brewster, Jonathan Brewster, Samuel Buffington and Tristram Browning, and their road commenced on the East side of Roberts' Hill in Northampton, and ran to the Eastern line of Pittsfield, passing through Westhampton, Chesterfield, Worthington, Pern (then Partridgefield) and Dalton.

There never was a Fourth Massachusetts Turnpike Corporation, but the Williamstown Turnpike Corporation legitimately comes in its place. This was established on the 1st of March, 1799, for the purpose of building and keeping in repair a road from the West side of Hoosac mountain, commencing at the termination of the road of the 2d Corporation, (from Charlemont over the mountain) and running thence through Adams and Williamstown to the line of Petersburg, Rensselaer County, N. Y. The Fifth Corporation was established on the 1st of March, 1799. This was for the building of a road from Northfield, through Warwick and Orange to Athol, and also from Greenfield through Montague and unimproved lands to Athol, where the roads were to join, and proceed through Tcmpleton, Gardner, Westminster and Fitchburg, to Leominster. The Sixth Massachusetts Turnpike Corporation was established on the 22d of June, 1799, their road commencing on the East line of Amherst, and passing through Pelham, Greenwich, Hardwick, New Braintree, Oakham, Rutland, Holden and Worcester, "to the great road in Shrewsbury, leading from New York to Boston." The road was ordered to be not less than four rods wide, and the traveled path not less than eighteen feet wide, in any place. The Tenth Turnpike Corporation was established on the 16th of June, 1800, for the_ purpose of laying out, making and keeping in repair a road from the point where the Farmington river crosses the line between Massachusetts and Connecticut, by the side of the river through Sandisfield, Bethlehem, (now a part of Otis) Becket and Lee, to Lenox Court House; thence over the mountain, through Richmond and Hancock, to the New York State line. The Twelfth Turnpike Corporation received its charter on the 19th of June, 1801. Its road commenced on the Connecticut line, in Sheffield, at the termination of a turnpike leading to Hartford, and ran Northwesterly to meet the Hudson River Turnpike, at the line of New York. The Thirteenth Corporation, established June 19th, 1801, built a road from the Connecticut line through Granville, to the Northwestern part of Loudon, now a portion cf the town of Otis. The Fourteenth Corporation was chartered on the 11th of March, 1802, to build a road from the West end of the Fifth Turnpike in Greenfield, through that town, Shelburne, Buckland and Charlemont, to the Eastern terminus of the Second Turnpike, leading over Hoosac Mountain. The Fifteenth Turnpike Corporation was established on the 12th of February, 1803, for the purpose of building a road from the Connecticut line in Southfield (now a part of Sandisfield) to connect with a turnpike from New Haven; thence through Sandisfield, New Marlboro and Great Barrington, to the Southern line of Stockbridge. The Sixteenth Corporation was chartered on the 14th of February, 1803, to build a road from the West line of West Springfield, through Southwick, Granville, Tolland and Sandisfield, to the turnpike route passing through Sheffield, from Hartford, Ct., to Hudson, N. T.

The Petersham and Monson Corporation was established February 29th, 1804, its road leading from the Fifth Turnpike in Athol, through the towns of Athol, Petersham, Dana, Greenwich, Ware, Palmer and Monson, to connect with the turnpike leading to Stafford in Connecticut. The Becket Turnpike Corporation received its charter on the 22d of June, 1803, for building a road from Becket, connecting the turnpike from Hartford to Lenox with the turnpike leading from Pittsfield to Westfield. The Springfield and Longmeadow Corporation was established on the 7th of March, 1804, for the purpose of building a road from the Southern extremity of Main Street, by a direct route through Longmeadow to the Connecticut line. The Tyringbam and Lee Corporation, established on the 15th of March, 1805, built a road between specified points in those towns, and the Williamsburg and Windsor Corporation, established on the 16th of March, 1805, built a road through Williamsburg, Goshen, Cummington and Windsor to the East line of Cheshire. Besides these, there were the Belchertown and Greenwich, the Blandford and Russell, the Chester, and, perhaps, a few other minor turnpike corporations. In fact, nearly all the turnpikes established by the Legislature were located in the Western part of the State.

The tedious list of turnpike corporations which has been enumerated, the list of bridge corporations given, and the ■statements in connection -with the construction of the locks and canals for the purpose of rendering Connecticut River navigable, will show the nature of the enterprises that engaged the attention of the people in the years of peace, industry and enterprise that followed the Shays Rebellion. The turnpike fever was equal to the railroad fever of later times. Turnpikes were everywhere, and the taxation of transport was universal, but that taxation was not, for many years, felt to be a grievance. The turnpike roads greatly facilitated access to markets, and, in the same degTee, increased the value of real estate on every route through which they passed. It is, comparatively, but a few years since the towns, made competent and populous through their assistance, took the large majority of them from the hands of their proprietors, and assumed their support at the public charge. That they had a decided effect in the development of the resources, the healthy stimulation of the industry, and the establishment upon the soundest basis, of the prosperity of Western Massachusetts, is evident alike from their popularity as investments, the regions through which they passed, and the points of production and exchange which they connected.

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