The History of Big Alum Lake

Chapter 9


Trolley in front of the Fiskdale Hotel

In the late 1800's electric motor technology was perfected and the street-railway industry began. Although the early electric trolleys were small and not very powerful, they were considerably faster than the horse-drawn cars they replaced. They became so popular with the riding public that trolley lines were built to extend beyond city limits, and as a result people were able to live in the "suburbs" and commute to their jobs in the cities.  The trolley lines between towns successfully competed against steam railroads as well.   Trolleys were economical to operate and could provide faster and more frequent service to their customers.    

Many trolley companies built and operated amusement parks along their lines as a way of generating extra revenue during the summer months. One such park, Riverside Park in Agawam, Massachusetts (now called Six Flags of New England) was owned by the Springfield Street-Railway.

In the 1890's the Southbridge and Sturbridge electric street railway connected Fiskdale southeast through Sturbridge Center to the Globe Village and Southbridge Center, along Main Street to Fairview Park Road, and later to Route 131.  A brick trolley substation was built in Fiskdale in 1906.

The early 1900's saw an increase in the population of Big Alum because of the trolley line which ran through Fiskdale from Southbridge and Springfield. Summer residents would bring their belongings by trolley to Fiskdale. There was a livery stable near the trolley station and people would rent a horse and wagon to finish the trip to the lake.

Two trolleys on Main Street, Fiskdale

Fiskdale trolley line bridge

Fiskale trolley line heading east

Southbridge/Sturbridge Street Railway
Official Time Table

In 1901 it took five cents and fifteen minutes
to get from Southbridge to Sturbridge.

*  How the trolley car got its name:  the shoe or wheel at the very end of the trolley pole, the part that actually touches and runs along the underside of the overhead wire, is called the "trolley" - so... the trolley is attached to the trolley pole which is attached to the trolley car.  (

Introduction, Chapters:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17