Friday, December 7, 2012

I Hear The Train A Comin'

 Now with the new line markings, folks traveling Main Street will also better see that they are approaching a railroad crossing

The Irish, mainly, built the railroad spur cutting through Amherst just below the Dickinson Homestead circa 1850, and the first train chugged over them in June, 1853.

Around the time of construction, a youthful Emily Dickinson wrote to her brother requesting he return to Amherst to kill some of the Irish as they were "so many now, there is no room for the Americans."

Of course Miss Emily got over her disdain for the Irish.  In her last will and testament she specifically requested six hard-working Irish laborers who tended to the Homestead, carry her white casket out the back door, across a field, to West Cemetery.

Unlike her father Edward, who had the proverbial bring-the-town-to-a-complete-halt kind of fancy funeral with a grand procession through town center.

Kelley Square, as it is still called on the assessor's map, is located only 75 yards southwest of this Main Street railroad crossing.  My great, great grandfather Tom Kelley purchased the property from Edward Dickinson in 1864 for $1,216. 

Edward had purchased it from the railroad five years earlier for only $100, so not a bad Return On Investment.

At its peak Kelley Square hosted three houses, fruit trees, roses, grapes and a barn.  Maggie Mahar, Miss Emily's loyal servant, protector and friend ... the "North Wind" of the family, retired to Kelley Square after the final Dickinson died, where she lived out her days.   Called back, finally, in 1924.

The last remaining house on Kelley Square was demolished in the 1970s and the land returned to the wild.

The trains, however, still chug through Amherst.


Dr. Ed said...

I don't know who was behind this, or if it was the town or railroad that paid for it, but hat's off to whomever it is.

I have long been concerned about that crossing not being properly marked. Coming into town at night, around midnight and tired, one can see the green light at Triangle street far better than the flashing red lights way up high -- and the empty flatcars stopped as they switch a few show up barely at all.

Anonymous said...

Is there a point to this?

Larry Kelley said...

Slow news day.

Well, except for bus vs school child accident on South East Street at 2:47 PM.

Anonymous said...

Why doesnt Amherst have cross bars that lower and raise for crossings?

The Juggernaut said...

Replace Irish with students, Americans with townfolk, click your heels, and you have the complaints of the modern town.

Anonymous said...

Your comment reeks of your inability to employ critical thinking. Here is some grist for your mill: Whether it was Irish or any other immigrant group that came into Town decades ago, none of them swarmed in mobs of 400, throwing rocks and beer bottles at police officers, nor did they parade back to the dorms urinating on lawns and screaming at 2 a.m.

Dr. Ed said...

none of them swarmed in mobs of 400, throwing rocks and beer bottles at police officers

Oh, really?!?

Why then were cobblestones often referred to as "Irish Confetti"?

Where might that term have come from?
And do you think that they didn't drink? Really?

Anonymous said...

Now the students are comparing themselves to oppressed immigrant groups of the past?

Now that's putting an education to good use.

Anonymous said...

In Amherst, Ed, in Amherst.