19th-century turnpikes in Massachusetts

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Map of the 19th century turnpikes in Massachusetts.

In the late 18th century and early 19th century, turnpikes, as opposed to ordinary roads of the same time, were roads where gates barred travelers from continuing and at which payments were demanded for the use of the road. The word "turnpike" itself comes from the fact that these gates, called "pikes," were "turned" once the toll was paid. The privilege of building and operating turnpikes was conferred by the state legislature to "turnpike corporations". Turnpikes were constructed using private capital, were privately owned, and were operated for revenue from toll collection. The turnpike era in Massachusetts began in 1796, when the first act of incorporation for a turnpike was passed. By 1850, most turnpike corporations had either been dissolved or had stopped collecting tolls. In all, 118 acts of incorporation were passed (ten of these were in the territory that later became the state of Maine). Typical toll rates were twenty-five cents for every coach with additional charges of four cents for every man and horse.

List of turnpikes[edit]

The following 19th century turnpikes were chartered and built in Massachusetts:

Turnpike name General routing Dates of operation Modern designation
First Massachusetts Turnpike North Wilbraham–Palmer–Warren 1796–1819 US 20–Old Warren Road–Route 67
Second Massachusetts Turnpike[1] North Adams–Drury–Charlemont 1797–1833 Route 2
Third Massachusetts Turnpike Pittsfield line–Worthington–Northampton 1797–1829 Grange Hall Road/Robinson Road–Route 143–East Street/Chesterfield Road
Williamstown Turnpike New York state line–Williamstown–North Adams Route 2
Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike Greenfield–Athol–Leominster–Concord
(with branch from Athol to Northfield)
1799–1832 Route 2
Sixth Massachusetts Turnpike Amherst–Greenwich–Oakham–Shrewsbury 1799–1829 Local roads west of Rutland and east of Holden; Route 122A (Rutland-Holden).
Pelham-Greenwich is now under the Quabbin Reservoir.
Eighth Massachusetts Turnpike Becket–Chester–Russell 1800–1844 US 20
Ninth Massachusetts Turnpike Douglas–Mendon–Bellingham 1800–1833 Southwest Main Street–Hartford Avenue
(old Middle Post Road)
Tenth Massachusetts Turnpike New York line–Lenox–Becket–Sandisfield–Connecticut line 1800–1855 Route 8 / US 20–local streets north of Lenox
Third New Hampshire Turnpike New Hampshire line–Townsend 1801–1826 Old Turnpike Road (connects to NH 124)
Twelfth Massachusetts Turnpike Egremont–Sheffield—Connecticut line 1801–1857 US 7–Egremont Road–Route 23
Salem Turnpike Boston–Lynn–Salem 1802–1868 Broadway–Route 107
Norfolk and Bristol Turnpike Dedham Washington StreetUS 1 / Route 1A
Name Location Modern Designation
Quincy Turnpike Quincy
Fourteenth Massachusetts Turnpike Shelburne
Camden Turnpike Camden, Maine
First Cumberland Turnpike Cumberland, Maine
Belchertown and Greenwich Turnpike Belchertown
Fifteenth Massachusetts Turnpike Great Barrington
Wiscasset and Augusta Turnpike Augusta, Maine
Medford Turnpike Somerville
Braintree and Weymouth Turnpike Weymouth
Chester Turnpike Middlefield
Cambridge and Concord Turnpike Concord
Newburyport Turnpike Danvers
Becket Turnpike Becket
Essex Turnpike Middleton Route 114
Wiscasset and Woolwich Turnpike Maine
North Branch Turnpike Winchendon
New Bedford and Bridgewater Turnpike Weymouth
Petersham and Monson Turnpike Athol
Union Turnpike Leominster
Taunton and New Bedford Turnpike Not marked
Blue Hill Turnpike Milton
Hartford and Dedham Turnpike Millis
Dorchester Turnpike Dorchester
Bath or Governor King's Turnpike Maine
Brush Hill Turnpike Milton
Andover and Medford Turnpike Reading
Middlesex Turnpike Cambridge to Tyngsboro Parallel to US 3; portions survive as present Broadway and Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts Avenue and Lowell Street in Arlington, Lowell Street in Lexington, Middlesex Turnpike in Burlington, Bedford, and Billerica, Old Middlesex Turnpike and a segment of River Street in Billierica, Turnpike Road, North Road, a segment of Princeton Street, and Tyngsboro Road in Chelmsford, and Middlesex Road in Tyngsboro.
Worcester and Fitzwilliam Turnpike Winchendon
Ashby Turnpike Ashby Route 119
Worcester and Stafford Turnpike Holland
Plum Island Turnpike Newbury
Worcester Turnpike Boston to Worcester Route 9
Housatonic River Turnpike West Stockbridge
Alford and Egremont Turnpike Egremont
Lancaster and Bolton Turnpike Bolton
Wrentham and Walpole Turnpike Walpole
Stoughton Turnpike Stoughton
Taunton and South Boston Turnpike Randolph
Hingham and Quincy Turnpike Hingham
Hudson Turnpike West Stockbridge
Douglas, Sutton and Oxford Turnpike Douglas
Great Barrington and Alford Turnpike Egremont
Mill Dam Boston
Barre Turnpike Barre
Chester Turnpike Chester
Watertown Turnpike Watertown
Central Turnpike Framingham
Turnpike from Cambridge to Watertown Watertown
Gore Turnpike Douglas
Pontoosac Turnpike Chester
Taunton and Providence Turnpike Taunton
Hampden and Berkshire Turnpike Otis
Granite Turnpike [2]


  • Frederic J. Wood (1997) [1919]. The Turnpikes of New England [abridged]. Branch Line Press. ISBN 0-942147-05-7.