Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fast Horses

In the late 1800s, the impromptu racing of horses on Middleborough's streets frequently occurred with Main Street becoming the most popular venue. Racing on Main Street, in fact, became so frequent that the Middleboro Gazette felt obliged to comment upon the issue in 1870: “Fast driving in our streets when they are crowded as they were Wednesday night while the band was playing is a little too hazardous to life and limb and should be stopped.” Ultimately, when such speeding continued, section 8 of the Middleborough by-laws was adopted. “No person shall ride, or drive any horse or horses, attached or unattached to any carriage in any of the streets of this town, within one mile of the Town House, at a furious or immoderate rate.” Fines for such violations were set between $5 and $20. Despite the weight of the fines, the by-law was not heeded by all. In April, 1879, one local newspaper was calling upon “our constables to do their duty the next time they see Mr. Andrew Cobb Wood riding through our streets at such a furious rate as he was going on Tuesday last, and arrest him ….”

Horse and Carriage, South Main Street, Middleborough, MA, photograph, c. 1898
The fast driving on Middleborough’s streets of horses and rigs such as the one pictured above about 1898  was so common during the last quarter of the 20th century, voters felt compelled to approve a by-law banning speeding on public roadways within a mile radius of the Town Hall seen in the right background.  Beside it is Middleborough High School, later the Bates School.


laura Harris said...

LOL, the first speed limit laws!

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