Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oops! Mail Delivery at Rock Goes Awry, 1907

Rock Station, Rock, MA, photograph, c. 1900.  The view
depicts the former New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad
station at Miller Street at Rock.  The building at the far left is
the station freight house; the passenger depot stands opposite.
Behind the passenger depot, the Independent Congregational
Chapel (now the Rock Village Church) may be seen.  Beyond
is the Atwood Building, later site of the Rock Village Library.
In 1848, rail service finally came to Rock with the opening of the Cape Cod Branch Railroad which in 1846 had been em-
powered to construct a rail line from near the Fall River Railroad Company's depot at Middleborough to Sandwich on Cape Cod.  From nearly the outset, the Cape Cod Branch found ridership to be low, the bulk of its receipts coming from freight shipments on the new line.  As a consequence, as early as 1860, the railroad sought to close the passenger stations at Rock and South Middleborough and to consolidate the two into one station to be located midway between the two villages.  Residents of both communities opposed this action, and were supported by the state which held authority over the matter and which contended that the step would be too disruptive to the habits which had grown up since the railroad line had been opened.  Undeterred, the railroad in 1867 made Rock a flag stop, which required the station's flagman to signal a train to stop.  Mail which was carried on the train in heavy canvas bags had prior to 1867 been off loaded while the train idled at the station.  Under the new system, however, these mail bags were simply tossed from the moving train on the approach to the station.  Numerous tales survive regarding the mishaps of these mail deliveries, as well as later efforts to mechanize the effort.  Perhaps the best from Rock dates from 1907 when the mail delivery on June 12 of that year went terribly wrong as recorded by local correspondent James H. Creedon.

Rock Village Mail Ground to Pieces
A mail bag thrown from the express which supplies Rock village with mail, yesterday, was carried under the train, and the bag and contents ground to pieces.

On Saturday, June 18, the Middleborough Historical Commission and Rock Village Church will be sponsoring an historic walking tour of a portion of Rock.


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