, (then) at the crossing of the Aberjona
, was an arch of stone which in '52 was destroyed by the ice-jam of a spring freshet which formed against the massive granite aqueduct of the canal.
The rising flood lifted the arch, loosening the keystones, and allowing the whole to fall just after a train had passed safely over.
Two arches of dressed granite carried Central street in Somerville
and Salem street in Woburn
over the railroad.
The latter is just north from the Walnut Hill
(or watering) station, and is of the style known as the return arch.
The former was a segmental arch springing from perpendicular abutments, and was some twenty years ago removed, and replaced by a modern steel structure.
In the early days these and all over-head bridges were sources of great danger to the employees (as witness the fatality of June 25, '35). Modern ingenuity forty years ago devised a simple and effective safeguard in the shape of a rod pointing over the track, which hits the endangered one a warning tap ere the bridge is reached.
With increasing traffic have come larger and stronger engines, larger and more convenient cars, with heavier and longer rails of steel; then the appliances of safety— of automatic brakes and block signals.
I have endeavored to write something of our first railroad and how it was built.
To some of us it doubtless seems as if the road was always here, but there are still some in our city who remember its earliest days, for it is but seventy-three years old. There are possibly more that can remember riding in the ‘rapid car’ while (not steam but) horses dragged ‘the slow barge’ along the canal by its side in various places.
For seventeen years this was kept up, for the canal company put up a plucky fight, but steam finally won. But for the monopoly secured to the railroad by the forty-year clause in its charter, it would have been possible for the canal proprietors to have laid rails on their embankments and proved whether there was truth in the saying, that competition is the life of trade—or no. After the expiration