West End Street Railway Company


SKU: 2873
Product Details

Nicely engraved antique stock certificate from the West End Street Railway Company dating back to the early 1900's. This document was printed by the American Bank Note Company, and measures approximately 11" (w) by 7 1/2" (h).

This certificate features a great vignette of an allegorical female figure and the Massachusetts State Seal.


The images presented are representative of the piece(s) you will receive. When representative images are presented for one of our offerings, you will receive a certificate in similar condition as the one pictured; however dating, denomination, certificate number and issuance details may vary.

    Historical Context

    The West End Street Railway Company was organized November 12, 1887, with Henry M. Whitney as president at the time. This railway was intended as a short electric railway line to real estate located in Brookline, a Boston suburb. Sometime after the franchise was granted, before any construction had started, a number of horse drawn streetcar companies were consolidated (including the Metropolitan Rail Road Company and the Boston Consolidated Street Railway Company) in to one large enterprise, called the West End Street Railway (the start of what has today become Boston’s “T” System).

    By the time consolidation was completed in 1888, the West End had 7,816 horses and 1,480 cars. The new transportation business was great and continued to grow. One year later there were as many as 9,000 horses dragging over 2,000 cars all over Boston and adjoining towns. Without a better form of motive power, Whitney had a big white elephant on his hand. After detailed investigations were made, the company reached a decision to install the (San Francisco) mechanical cable system. A local newspaper reported that the company was moving ahead with engineering plans, that cable engineers had arrived in Boston, that cable layout and designs had begun.

    Fortunately for everyone, except for mechanical cable engineers, Henry Whitney was invited by Frank Sprague to go to Richmond Virginia to see the merits of his electric road operating in that city. History says that Whitney was very impressed with electric streetcars and that he quickly abandoned the cable. He decided to experiment with the Sprague system and in the summer of 1888, signed a contract for 20 Sprague electric cars to run from Park Square to Chestnut Hill and Allston, using the overhead trolley wire. A short section of line was equipped with the Bentley-Knight underground conduit.

    Unfortunately, this underground conduit was poorly constructed and had to be abandoned because of annoying failures and public safety concerns. The death blow for the underground conduit in Boston came on April 9, 1889, when a team of horses was electrocuted while traveling over the conduit track on Boylston Street.

    The West End later became the Boston Elevated Railway Company.