Ipswich Museum winter 2015 exhibit

Dates: Saturdays and Sundays, February 4 – April 30, 2017, 1-4 pm.
Cost: family non-members $10, individual non-members $5, and free for museum members.

Eastern Railroad, Ipswich MA
Eastern Railroad

This exhibit will tell the story of the railroad in Ipswich and its impact on the community over the years. The first train arrived in Ipswich at approximately 9 am on Friday, December 20, 1839. The Eastern Railroad, which connected Boston with Portsmouth, NH was one of the first railroads in the United States. The Eastern Railroad was acquired by the Boston and Maine Railroad on May 9, 1890.

In many ways Ipswich was just a normal stop on the mainline. However, over the years it had a railroad owned hotel, an engine house and turntable, car building shops, and a major freight house. In the days of steam engines all trains stopped in Ipswich for water. At one time the Railroad employed 23 people in Ipswich. There were crossing tenders, baggage handlers, station agents, as well as porters at the freight house. This number does not begin to include the jobs held by people throughout town that relied on the Railroad at the numerous local businesses.  Ipswich had the longest rail sidings on the Eastern Division with the capability of holding 221 freight cars.

All rail freight business in Ipswich was gone by 1970. The last freight train through Ipswich was in November of 1984.


Working model of the Railroad in Ipswich

John Stump with help from friends has built an exact replica of the railroad in HO scale from the RR bridge over the Ipswich River to Liberty Street, based on Boston and Maine RR surveyors’ hand-written notes. It has all the mainline track as well as the sidings, is accompanied by informational displays and photos,  and will be operational for visitors to run.

Wednesday Evening Lecture on February 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm

The History of the Railroad in Ipswich: Allen MacMillan, a retired railroad engineer, will take us on a sentimental journey, when trains were the main mode of transportation in town. Free for museum members; $10 for non-members. Exhibit viewing included in cost of lecture. Held in the Heard House of the Ipswich Museum.

School Vacation Program on February 22, 2017 from 1-3 pm

Families can join us for an afternoon on the railroad in Ipswich. Attendees will get to explore the exhibit and drive the model trains, make-and-take their own train using recyclable materials, and more! Email educator@ipswichmuseum.org for more information.  The cost is $5 per child. Exhibit viewing included in cost of program.Held in the Heard House of the Ipswich Museum.

Wednesday Evening Lecture on March 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Renaissance of Railroads: A Perspective on the Last Several Decades of the Industry: Darius Gaskins, past president of Burlington Northern Railroad, chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission, West Point graduate, PhD. University of Michigan in economics, will present this month’s Wednesday Evening Lecture. Free for museum members; $10 for non-members. Exhibit viewing included in cost of lecture. Held in the Heard House of the Ipswich Museum.

Ipswich Depot
Ipswich Depot and baggage house

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