Peabody’s first train line was built in 1846 by the Essex Railroad, ultimately connecting Salem, Peabody, Danvers and Lawrence. On July 4, 1848, 3,000 people traveled the Peabody to Danvers section of the journey and marveled at the innovation.
In 1850, the South Reading Railroad was built and connected Peabody to Boston via South Reading (now Wakefield). The Georgetown Railroad was built in 1854, with stops in Newburyport, Georgetown, Topsfield, Danvers and West Peabody, continuing onto Boston via South Reading. West Peabody was also included in the Salem & Lowell Railroad, which traveled west to Tewksbury Junction.
By 1859, the Boston & Maine Railroad, the Boston & Lowell Railroad Corporation and the Eastern Railroad Company all operated lines passing through Peabody.
As you can imagine, with all these different railroad companies vying for business, each company worked to undercut the other and gain the monopoly of their areas.
In the end, all train lines through Peabody would be owned and operated by the Boston & Maine Railroad.
It cannot be underestimated what a dramatic impact the railroads had on everyday people. Before this innovation, long distance travel was done via stage coaches and freight wagons, which were expensive and uncomfortable.
The railways enabled the people of Peabody to work further away from their homes. They also had quicker access to the region’s many activities, like Revere Beach, as seen from the above train schedule from 1885.
Train travel’s popularity declined with the advent of the automobile.
The last passenger train out of Peabody Square departed the station on May 16, 1958. Conductor William Dee waved goodbye in this image, taken on the final journey.
Interested in knowing more?
Click here to view a listing of the different train stops that once existed in Peabody.
William Power. “Peabody’s Railroads from 1850 – 1958”, 1998.
Jack Butterworth. “Peabody train reached end of the line 40 years ago,” The Lynn Item, May 18, 1998.
Jack Wells. The Peabody Story, 1972.
Charles J. Kennedy. “Railroads in Essex County a Century Ago”, B & M Bulletin, Spring 1976.
“Fifty-Nine Years Ago, Tomorrow Will Be Anniversary of Eastern Railroad,” Salem News, August 26, 1897.