Wolcott Historical Society News - August 2022
By Florence Goodman
Recently the Wolcott Historical Society was fortunate enough to have Wolcott resident, Emily Gentile, a Springfield College student completing a summer internship at our Center School History Museum. She has created a database and has been entering the necessary information on each artifact. While working with Emily as she photographed each article, I came across our Green Line Trolley post card collection. It's been nine years since I wrote about the trolley and thought it was time to revisit this history.
The Green Line Trolley ran from the Waterbury Green to Milldale while passing through Wolcott via Meriden Road. This trolley played a major role in the development of the Hitchcock Lake area because it allowed people a mode of transportation that was never available before. Trolleys were usually associated with summer recreation because the trolley companies built resorts in areas surrounding large cities to increase the use of their lines. In the fall of 1913 workers began laying track up Meriden Road, which passed through the Will Garrigus farm. On December 4, 1914, the Waterbury and Milldale Tramway Company also known as "The Green Line" trolley began to provide service from the center of Waterbury to southern Wolcott along Meriden Road to Hitchcock Lake. It then continued down Southington Mountain into Milldale. The route that the trolley took veered west at the top pf Southington Mountain over a trestle and continued down the hill through what is now Farmingbury Hills Golf Course.
The Hitchcock Lake area was known as Shelt's because Mr. Shelton Hitchcock owned much of the land around the lake and his home was located on Meriden Road near the head of the lakes. The area became a favorite retreat for city people with its pure spring water and peaceful scenery. The lots around the lake were inexpensive so summer cottages and small businesses quickly sprang up. It became a popular water resort for people from Waterbury and this new transportation helped with the rapid development of these twin lakes.
At its peak the Tramway Company operated six cars over 9.2 miles of track in the Waterbury area. A car barn, repair shop and a waiting station were located at the corner of Woodland Avenue and Meriden Road just across from where Perillo's Bowling Alley was located. The trolley cars began and ended their routes at the Waterbury Green. During rush hours or "express runs," Frost Road was the point where the cars turned around and headed back to the Green.
In 1921 the company purchased two center-entrance, double-truck Birney safety cars from the American Car Company in St. Louis, Missouri. A company from Nova Scotia originally ordered these unique trolley cars, but the order was canceled. These were the first and only safety cars ever built by this company that featured the center door. These trolleys provided a well needed service to Hitchcock residents for approximately 14 years. Service for the Green Line Trolley from Hitchcock Lake to Milldale ended in 1927. The East Main Street Line Service continued until October 29, 1933, when it was closed because of street repaving. The following day the Cooke Street Bus Line began operating buses that followed the Green Line route; sometime later the bus was dubbed the "Green Line."
As you can see the Green Line Trolley played an important role in helping to develop Hitchcock Lake into an enjoyable summer and weekend recreational getaway. Many restaurants and several small amusement areas developed in this location because residents of Waterbury now had transportation into our suburb.
(Information for this article was taken from Images or Rail Waterbury Trolleys, 2005 Arcadia, 175th Anniversary 1796-1971 by John Washburne; my Wolcott News article from March 2013)
A 2008 Google map of the Green Line Trolley route from Waterbury to Milldale.
Green Line Trolley on Southington Mountain during the February snowstorm in 1920.
Green Line Trolley on Meriden Road at Dew Drop Inn.
Green Line Trolley at top of Southington Mountain just past East Street.
In 1913, laying down tracks on the Will Garrigus farm on Meriden Road.
Green Line Trolley at car house on Meriden Road and Frost Road
To view past installments of the Historical Society News, click here.