The Grand Opening
The Grand Opening
In 1894, Milford was a town on the move and the opening of the Milford & Brookline train depot (now known as the Fitchburg Depot and occupied by a United Auto Parts store) was a chance to celebrate the spirit pervading. The station opened in a town-wide celebration on November 19, 1894. As was typical of the reporting of the day, the Milford Farmer’s Cabinet certainly did not hold back when describing the gravity of the event: “The conditions for the opening of the Milford & Brookline Railroad were most auspicious, and it is a pleasing feature and one to be appreciated by our people and their guests who were to join in the festivities of the day, an occasion which marks an epoch in the history of the town.” Epoch or no, it was certainly a town-wide celebration, as most of the population turned out and church bells and factory whistles fell silent. The Milford Cornet Band was on hand to lead a procession of police officers, a fire apparatus, and a cannon to the new station. As far as the Cabinet was concerned, the attractiveness of this new structure was beyond debate: “The people say, ‘it is a beauty,’ and no person would attempt to gainsay or contradict the statement without making a direct assault on public sentiment.” Ok then!
After the first trains rolled in just a few minutes after schedule, passengers from Brookline and bigwigs from Boston debarked to a booming cannon, the strings of the band and crystal streams of water shooting into the air. Eventually the visitors and carriages ambled downtown where they gathered for a Boston-catered banquet for 400 at the townhouse, as well as checking out the Oval and new high school.
Speakers and special guests were abundant, including U.S Senators, would-be senators, congressmen and a score of VIPs from New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The progress of man was a common theme for the addresses as speakers went on at some length in an optimistic tone. Congressman Henry Baker told the crowd that Milford had “reached a new era of prosperity,” and would soon be a city, while Senator W.E. Chandler commented that “America has more railroads in the world” than anyone else and pushed for a line to Manchester. The town was bully on their progress and growth. Indeed, the Farmer’s Cabinet ran a special story in the Thursday paper congratulating the town on basically anything on which a town could be congratulated. “Milford knows how to celebrate. In public spirit, enterprise, enthusiasm and intelligent regard to details, her citizens are excelled by those of no other town or city in the state.” Indeed, no newspaper knew boosterism quite like the Cabinet.