We don't know as much as we would like to know about operations. The operation was under the control of the station agent. Stanley Hall was the last station agent from 1947 until freight service ended around 1968. His son John recently provided us with some memories of him, which describe his work as station agent. He was responsible for all passenger and freight business, including overseeing the passenger station, the freight house and a small maintenance shed. The normal work week was 5 ½ 10 hour days, starting with the arrival of the first passenger train at about 6:30 a.m. The station agent was also a telegrapher and was responsible for communications with the main office and the trains. In the freight house was the Railway Express office run by Norman Weeden, also Spud Dicey who handled freight and was a part time agent. In early years, there were also telegraphers at the stations, including Miss Emmons in the 1880s, the only woman that I know of who worked for the railroad in Ashland.
Train service: The original service in early 1850 there was one train a day, which stopped in Ashland on its way up from Concord and again on its way back from Plymouth to Concord. But within the year, there were two round trip trains, so two north bound stops and two south bound stops. There were 30 trains daily though Ashland in July of 1882, a number which may include freight trains. Some idea of the volume of passengers at the station at the height of railroad travel can be seen in an August 1903 news report that last Saturday, 300 passengers with 250 pieces of baggage arrived in Ashland, with more than 200 passengers leaving the northbound train at 5:06 p.m. The 1920s passengers train schedules show that generally 6 to 9 passenger trains stopped daily, which was reduced to just to 4 or 6 on Sundays. In the last years, the use of the railroad waned greatly. A 1967 news article noted just one freight train every day except Sunday, which delivered scrap paper to the Ashland paper mill, and picked up paper from that mill and wood chips from the chipping mill, along with freight to and from other places along the line.
Part 8: This presentation of The Railroad in Ashland was delivered by David Ruell to the Ashland Historical Society on September 12, 2019 in the Ashland Railroad Station Museum.