One of the Earliest Railroads in New England Goes into Service

August 27, 1838

The Eastern Railroad, one of the earliest railroads in New England, began operations along a 13-mile (21-kilometer) segment in Massachusetts between Boston’s neighborhood of East Boston and the city of Salem via the then-town of Lynn. Construction on the line had begun in 1836. At the time of the formal debut of this railroad, its rolling stock consisted of three locomotives and 16 passenger cars.

During the inaugural ceremony for the new line, Eastern Railroad Company President George Peabody emphasized the quality and efforts that were involved in constructing it. “But we are not be the sole judge of our labors,” he said to those in attendance. “They are to be submitted to a competent tribunal. The public, whose comfort and security are to be essentially affected by them, will soon decide how far success has crowned our exertions.”

The Eastern Railroad subsequently extended its operations beyond Salem. While its regional competitor Boston and Maine Railroad operated a more inland route in that part of the Bay State, the Eastern Railroad chose instead to set up tracks along the Massachusetts North Shore and eventually also served such other local communities as Beverly and Newburyport.(The above image depicts the railroad station in Newburyport.)

For more information on the Eastern Railroad, please check out and

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