Whether you call it pop, tonic, soda, or just plain Coke, the soda fountain owes its modern form to one Gustavus D. Dows who ran a drugstore with his brother at 213 Central Street in Lowell in the mid 1850s.
In the years following the US Civil War, roller skating really came into its own. As the design of the roller skate improved over the second half of the 19th century, so did its popularity. Many became fans of the new hobby. Many others viewed it as immoral and a threat to the order of…Read more The Controversial First Days of Roller Skating Rinks, Lowell – 1885
In summer's waning days in 1881, New Englanders read about hope for President Garfield's recovery from a gunshot wound suffered two months earlier, an imminent rising of the Apache Nation in the West, and a baseball game between the "Bostons" and the "Worcesters", where unfavorable weather "kept away all spectators" and worries that Pike, the center…Read more New England’s Yellow Day of 1881: A Saffron Curtain Descends
In the days before refrigeration, ice was a valuable winter cash crop for enterprising businessmen. Ice was a year-round staple in most households, and many families would give up food before they would give up ice. As a region, New England was well-known for its quality ice. The region's severe cold coupled with its deep ponds produced…Read more Past Occupations: Ice Cutters in Massachusetts
Was Thanksgiving dinner different during Victorian times? If you were to sit down at a Thanksgiving table in 1883, you would see the familiar turkey and cranberry sauce and pies. But, what might surprise you would be, first, macaroni and cheese, and next, the meal that arrived when the Victorians called for macaroni and cheese. In…Read more Macaroni and Cheese? For Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving Dinner in 1883
My two-year-old son loves trains. One of his first words was "train". And, he likes to announce the arrival and departure of trains, with the word "train", repeatedly, while pointing. The fascination people have with trains can be traced back much further than today's living generations. In fact, before planes and automobiles, trains, or iron…Read more The Men of the Boston, Lowell and Nashua Line – Train Life in the 1870s
A steady stream of ten boys, each jumping from the classroom windows of the Rainsford Island House of Reformation, sprinted for the shore under the cover of the night fog on August 19, 1899. They found their way through the brush by the light of the fire that raged through their prison behind them. As…Read more Jailbreak at Rainsford Island – Boston Harbor: August 1899
Blue lights, green lights, and red lights rose out of the dusky fog. Men emerged carrying bright Japanese lanterns; women held dim electric bulbs. As summer waned in Boston during the last days of August in 1899, a new regulation came into effect. Starting on the night of August 21, 1899, bicyclists in Boston were…Read more Oh, The Many Queer Lights of Franklin Park! – The Advent of Bicycle Lights in Boston, 1899
Few people living today remember the 1920s - let alone the specifics of travel during the era. Luckily, New England's commitment to preserving its history makes it relatively easy to envision the region as it appeared in decades past. This becomes obvious during any ride through many of its cities. The YouTube video below shows the…Read more A Train Accident in Lowell – 1928
Is Massachusetts getting warmer? Wetter? There has been a lot of talk about global warming, climate change, its causes and its implications for our future. But, how has climate change affected Massachusetts? To really identify climate change, one needs a consistent set of data, taken reliably, continuously, and consistently at the same location over a…Read more Climate Change: Is Massachusetts getting warmer and wetter?