Beautifully engraved antique stock certificate from the Boston, Hartford and Erie Rail Road Company dating back to the 1880's. This document, which is signed by the company President and Treasurer, was printed by the Franklin Bank Note Company, and measures approximately 11" (w) by 7" (h).
This certificate's intricate vignette features a very detailed locomotive and train.
In May 1863, the Boston, Hartford and Erie Railroad was chartered to take over operations of a group of failed lines that were originally designed to eventually connect Boston with New York, and continue the line west to Fishkill, New York, with a car float from there to the Erie Railroad at Newburgh. It quickly leased the Hartford, Providence and Fishkill Railroad from its trustees, giving it a line from Providence west to Waterbury. In September of that year it acquired the former Boston and New York Central Railroad, but did not operate it yet; the old Norfolk County Railroad continued operations by its trustees.
In the meantime, the New York and Boston Railroad had built a line from Brookline, Massachusetts (outside Boston) southwest to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, crossing the Norfolk County Railroad in Blackstone. On January 4, 1865 the BH&E absorbed that company, making its Woonsocket Division. On December 13 of the same year, various Erie Railway men were elected to the BH&E board, placing it under partial control of the Erie.
On February 11, 1867 the BH&E leased the Norfolk County Railroad, finally reopening the full line from Mechanicsville to Boston. That same year, the branch to Southbridge (part of the original Southbridge and Blackstone charter) opened. The Norwich and Worcester Railroad was leased in 1869, finally giving it a route to Boston, using the N&W from the Providence line at Plainfield north to the old Norfolk County Railroad at Mechanicsville. In August 1872 a direct connection from Willimantic on the line to Providence northeast to Mechanicsville opened, completing the direct line to Boston.
By 1869 the BH&E leased the Dutchess and Columbia Railroad, which was building a line roughly southwest-northeast in Dutchess County, New York. The BH&E planned to build west to the D&C at the future Hopewell Junction, but was not able to complete the line and lost the lease in 1870.
On September 9, 1872 the Long Island Rail Road's Boston Express began operations, using the BH&E from Norwich (at the south end of the N&W) to Boston. This was later replaced around 1891 with the Long Island and Eastern States Express, using the Danbury and Norwalk Railroad from Wilson Point to the BH&E (then the NY&NE) at Hawleyville (east of Danbury).
The New Haven, Middletown and Willimantic Railroad was leased in 1873, giving a line to New Haven. Later that year, the BH&E went bankrupt and was reorganized April 17 as the New York and New England Railroad; the N&W lease was kept but the NHM&W lease was forfeited (prior to its opening August 12), becoming part of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad system in 1879.
Various sources note the Boston Hartford & Erie as failing and falling into receivership in 1870, yet it was during the Panic of 1873 that 89 of the country's 364 railroads went bankrupt. The New York and New England Railroad Company was chartered by special act of the Massachusetts legislature on April 17, 1873. Such was the mess of the Boston Hartford & Erie's mortgages and land titles that the NY&NE did not enter into possession of any of the BH&E "system" until sometime in 1875.