Old-fashioned celebration Sunday for Trolley Days

Old-fashioned celebration Sunday for Trolley Days

GLOCESTER – The day that the trolley came to town saw Chepachet transformed forever. To commemorate that momentous event a century ago, a special celebration will be held Sunday afternoon, June 29, at Chepachet Union Church.

"It was like a future shock for these people, to be able to get anywhere. The world changed for Chepachet," said Mark Rechter of Chepachet, a member and past president of the Glocester Heritage Society who organized Trolley Days to mark the trolley's arrival on July 1, 1914.

Glocester was the last town in Rhode Island to get mechanized travel, said Rechter, a trolley and train enthusiast. "Scituate and Foster even" had trolleys, while other towns had rail lines served by passenger trains. But the only way to get in or out of Glocester was by stage coach or horse and buggy - guaranteed to provide hours of dusty, bumpy travel, as much as five hours to Providence, Rechter said. "Model T's were just coming in.

"You had to go to Oakland in Burrillville to get a train to Providence or to Pascoag for a trolley to Woonsocket," he said. "Everybody else could get to Providence pretty easily."

The trolley, on the other hand, offered hourly service from Chepachet to the capital city, a trip that now took no more than 55 minutes.

The lack of accessibility may not seem like much of a problem to modern minds. But the town had lost a lot of people in the last 50 years, dropping from 2,600 to 1,900 population, and surely the town's isolation must account for some of the loss.

On Sunday, the heritage society and the church will re-create the 1914 dinner held to welcome the trolley: chowder, clamcakes, watermelon - a fee will be charged for the dinner.

A vintage car show, featuring mostly Model A's and Model T's, will take place in the church parking lot. Dignitaries will be on hand to address the gathering, including Sen. Paul W. Fogarty, a Glocester Democrat, and Rep. Michael W. Chippendale, a Foster Republican. Scott Malloy, retired professor and well-known expert on Rhode Island history, will talk about the history of the trolley line.

The event will begin with a small parade of antique vehicles and a RIPTA modern-day trolley at 1:45 p.m., Rechter said. At 4 p.m., the Old-Time Fiddlers of Rhode Island will take the stage. The timing of the celebration is especially fortuitous, he noted, because the Job Armstrong Store, heritage society headquarters, celebrates its 200th year in 2014. The church also has special events planned during the week leading up to July 4.