Center Street Trestle - June 1, 1941

Take a trip back through time to Center Street, Manchester, June 1, 1941!

The landmark Center Street railroad trestle was built by the Cheney Brothers c.1869 as part of their privately-owned South Manchester Railroad, which ran from their mills on the West Side of Manchester to the North End of town. At one time, the SMRR was the shortest privately owned passenger railroad in the world, at just over three miles in length. The Cheneys sold the line to the New York, New Haven, and Hartford railroad in 1933, and from then on, it was only used as a freight rail until its abandonment in the 1980s. The ALCO DL-109 0744 train engine, first built in December of 1939 by the American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, NY, was typical of engines used by the NYNH&H during the 1940s.

1933 was also the year two brothers, Matthew and Maurice Moriarty, opened a small service station on the corner of Center Street and Broad Street. The business expanded greatly, and eventually became a town institution - selling gas, servicing cars, and dealing in new and used vehicles. Many people in town took to calling this intersection “Moriarty’s Corner.” Almost as soon as the Moriarty brothers opened for business, they began advertising on the Center Street trestle, and continued doing so until closing in the 1990s.

In the early part of the twentieth century, it was a daily occurrence for residents of Manchester to travel around the town by trolley. Several lines ran throughout the town, including tracks along the middle of Center Street from the Manchester Green to East Hartford. The Connecticut Company took over the Manchester tracks in the 1930s, eventually converting the trolley lines into bus routes. Manchester trolley service lasted until mid-to-late 1941.

Other places of note depicted in this illustration are the Edgewood House and The Center Service. The Edgewood Boarding House was originally built by the Cheney Brothers to house their employees. It was later renamed White Hall when it was converted into apartments by E.J. Holl. The Center Service was another gas station located almost directly across from Moriarty Brothers. Many gas “price wars” ensued between the two businesses throughout the 1930s, 40s, and into the 50s.

If you look closely, you can spot a 1936 Chevrolet Business Coupe heading downtown towards Main Street, followed by a 1940 Ford Coupe, and even a couple of old Ford Model A’s scattered about. The Douglass DC-3, first produced in 1936, was part of the American Airlines Flagship series, and appears to be heading from Boston to New York.

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