No Milton News letters are available for any of the weeks of January 1902; however, most of the instances for the other 11 months of 1901 are available and quite legible.
David A. Conner is the author of all of the available letters for this year; his initials appear at the end of every letter (D. A. C.).
The topic on everyone’s mind in 1902 is the apparent (and inexplicable) intransigence on the part of the Queen Anne’s Railroad Co. on the part of providing better connecting service from their line (which went east-west) to the Delaware, Maryland and Virginia line in Ellendale (which ran north-south). Scheduling was such that persons arriving at Ellendale in the afternoon from Philadelphia and other points north could not expect to find an eastbound connection on the Q. A. R. R. to Milton until the following day. It was the same for travel from Milton to points north. Passengers were forced to obtain private conveyance on those occasions, which was an additional expense as well as an inconvenience. This also created a problem for mail delivery, of which there were supposed to be three daily in those days. To paraphrase one person’s acerbic comment, “the morning mail arrives in the afternoon, the afternoon mail arrives the next day, and the evening mail doesn’t arrive at all.”
|D. M. & V. R. R.||Q. A. R. R.|
|Monday – Saturday||6.46 P. M.|
|Monday – Saturday|
|Arr. Ellendale||10.54 A.M|
|Arr. Milton||11.08 A.M.|
|Arr. Ellendale||10.30 A. M.|
|Arr. Milton||10.50 A. M.|
|Monday – Friday|
|Arr. Ellendale||7.08 P.M.|
|Arr. Milton||7.22 P.M.|
|Arr. Ellendale||6.18 P.M.|
|Arr. Milton||6.36 P.M.|
The timetable above, based on the timetables published in 1902 for the Q. A. R. R. and D. M. & V. R. R., illustrates the problem of connections between the two railroads that a passenger would need to use in order to travel from Baltimore, Philadelphia, or Wilmington to Milton. Passengers from these cities first had to travel south to Ellendale on the D. M. & V. R. R., where they would have to make a connection with an eastbound Q. A. R. R. train. The trouble was, there was only one southbound train stopping at Ellendale each day – at 6.46 P. M. That would enable an eastbound connection at 7.08 P. M. and arrival at Milton about 14 minutes later – if everything ran on schedule –on weekdays only. Perhaps even more infuriating was the Saturday evening schedule, when a southbound D. M. & V. train arrived at Ellendale 18 minutes after the last eastbound Q. A. R. R. connection had come and gone. On Sunday, there was only one morning train Q. A. R. R. train.
The situation for westbound to northbound connections was even worse. There was absolutely no practical connection. There were no evening northbound trains; the only northbound train of the day was at 3.20 P. M. The only possibility was to arrive at Ellendale in the early morning and wait until mid-afternoon for the northbound train, or use a private conveyance to get to Ellendale and lessen the waiting time for the 3.20.
Poor service on the Q. A. R. R. was not limited to passengers and mail. The timely availability of rail cars for shipment of agricultural products such as fruit was important, and when the railroad failed to deliver on its promises, produce would rot on the station platform and farmers would incur substantial losses. In one instance, a rail car for the movement of Captain John Fisher’s household goods from Milton to Philadelphia arrived a week after the date it was promised, causing considerable inconvenience to the family. There were no practical alternatives to the railroad for intercity moves in those days; it would be decades before moving vans would make their appearance.
The Ward & Merritt’s cannery at the Milton railroad station had a rough season, having set a contract price for tomatoes before the bottom dropped out of the local market – a price collapse due to the inability of growers to get their crop to market by land or sea on a timely basis. The other cannery by the river, Anderson & Bro., blew a boiler and incurred delays on the line until it could be replace, at the peak of the canning season. The business at the Beardsley & Lofland brickworks was booming.
An automobile – perhaps the first ever in Milton – made a brief appearance in town, coming and going.