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Electric Railroads of Vermont

Barre & Montpelier Traction & Power Company or Barre & Montpelier Street Railway-(1897-1928)

The Barre and Montpelier Traction company began operating June 29th 1889. In 1919 the company name was changed to Barre & Montpelier Traction and Power Company.

In Montpelier the trolleys ran from Bailey Avenue , down State Street to Main Street to Barre Street and onto Pioneer Street. The line crossed the Winnoski River on the Pioneer Street Bridge. It then followed the highway to Barre.

In Barre, the main line continued South on Main Street to the "old Granite Bridge" on the corner of Hill and Main Streets. There was a branch line in Montpelier that left Barre Street on Libby Avenue to run on Sibley Street to Kemp Street, and over Kemp to Colbey Street. The branch line ended near the hospital at Woodrow Avenue, in the Seminary Hill section.

The second branch line left Main Street in Barre; climbing the hill on Washington Street, to the intersection with Peterson Street.

Freight & Non Revenue Equipment

The original non-revenue car was a 27 foot single broom, Smith & Wallace snow sweeper. A 22 foot motorized George Fowler flatcar and a non-motorized 22 foot flatcar were purchased for line work. The 1924 McGraw Hill Electric Railway Directory reports the following information. There were 12 motor passenger cars, equipped for two man operation. There were also 2 one man operation motor passenger cars. Two other motor cars for freight and maintenance of way and one other car was listed.

Car number 10, a single truck, 16 foot converted horse car, in Barre, Vermont.

Passenger Equipment

The original order of revenue cars was six second hand, single truck, 32 foot Newburyport Car Company open cars. These were numbered 11, 15, 17, 19, 21 and 23.

An additional five 20 foot closed single truck cars were also ordered. These were numbered 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20.

Buildings & Property

The Main Office was located at 20 Langdon Street, Montpelier. The shops and car barn were also located in Montpelier. The trolley line owned and operated Dewey Park and Inter-City Park.

Electric Power

The company bought electric power from the Montpelier & Barre Light & Power Company, who used two General electric DC generators, for a combined total of 450 kv. The trolley's operated using 575 volts. There was a single substation, with the two motor generator sets, one rated at 250 kv and the other rated at 200 kv.

Track and Operations

The Barre and Montpelier Traction company began business June 29th 1889. The main line ran from Montpelier ,in front of the state house, (Bailey Avenue), to the "Granite Bridge" in Barre on South Main Street. There were 5 steam railroad grade crossings on the trolley route.

The total track milege was 10.25, laid to standard gage 4 foot 8 and a half inches.

The fare was listed at 8 cents per zone in the 1924 McGraw directory.

In 1919 the company name was changed to Barre & Montpelier Traction and Power Company. Some how even with the 5 dangerous crossings and the competition of bus companies, the trolley line continued to operate until November 1927. After the flood of 1927, coal-burning steam locomotives from the Barre & Chelsea Railroad, a competitor transported granite scraps and rubble from the quarries in Barre over the trolley tracks to be used as fill to repair flood damage. Many efforts were made to bring back the trolleys, but trolleys never ran to Barre again.

The company maintained and operated four large double truck cars and a Birney car, under Superintendent Andrus. Who left older four wheel cars to become unreliable.

A 40 minute headway was kept between the intersection of State Street and Bailey Avenue, Montpelier and the intersection of South Main Street and Ayer Street in Barre.

Between the increasingly popular automobile, the Montpelier & Wells River Railroad and early busses (Jitneys), the street railway was having a hard time in 1915. City officials complained that the trolleys were running too fast in that same year.

The Vermont State Highway Department blasted and widened the adjacent road in 1927, often leaving rocks and debris on the tracks for the railway to cleanup. Also in 1927 the Yellow Bus Company which operated between Barre, Montpelier and Burlington was given permission to provide local service.

The flood which followed a 48 hour rainstorm on November 3rd and 4th of 1927 nearly sealed the fate of the Barre Montpelier Street Railway. Destroying dams, bridges and undermining the tracks.

CREDITS: Information was gathered from the following Resources: Roger Borrup, Trials That Did-in a Vermont Trolley Line., Trolley Days in Vermont, Windsor, CT : Connecticut Electric Railway Association, 1985.

Robert C. Jones Railroads of Vermont I.Shelburne, VT : New England Press, 1993

McGraw Electric Railway Directory for 1924.

Albert Spaulding, Notes for Green Mountain Trolleys.