On Thursdays, we’ll take a closer look at the historic stories and scenes depicted in Richard Gibney’s mural, “Stoneham, Yesterday and Today.”
The third scene in the mural depicts a 19th-century train and train station. The Stoneham branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad opened on July 1, 1861, and carried passengers until 1959. The station pictured is artist Richard Gibney’s rendition of the original terminus building on Pine Street, which was replaced by the current station in 1895. The 2.4-mile-long stretch connected with the main line of the Boston and Lowell Railroad at Montvale Junction.
The crowd on the platform includes men, women and a child. Gibney made a significant change to this section of the mural, as it differs from a preliminary drawing. In the mural, a Union soldier is depicted on the platform, perhaps heading off to war. A paper sheet is also attached to the side of the building, which reads “Union Army” with other
indistinguishable writing, perhaps a listing of Stoneham men serving in the war. Stoneham sent more than 500 men to the Civil War, and the war exacted a heavy price on the community. Neither the soldier nor the sheet are in the preliminary drawing.
With these details, we can date this scene to the Civil War years 1861-1865.
The most prominent feature of this section of the mural, however, is the locomotive itself. The trains served the growing shoe and leather industries in town and were a prominent feature of the Industrial Age townscape.