Way Back: Remembering the early sleigh parties of Concord’s past

A horse-drawn sleigh pulls a pair of men through Concord in the 1890s. Courtesy of Jim Spain
A horse-drawn sleigh pulls a pair of men through Concord in the 1890s. Courtesy of Jim Spain

There was a time when the sound of the falling snow was as audible as the wind between the bare branches of each grand tree around our little town of Concord. More than a century ago, contrary to common thoughts, we find our local merchants welcoming the deep snow to the hills and valleys surrounding our beloved Concord. Each storm would deliver joy in the form of profits and pleasure to our ancestors as the young and brave embarked for an evening at a sleigh-ride party.

These parties were widely attended with private and grand sleighs pulled by bell-laden teams of horses with young men and ladies covered in wool blankets traveling under the brightly lit countryside. A popular route brought Concord teenagers out to the village in Hopkinton where multiple sleighs would meet and join in festive cheer around a bonfire to enjoy spirits, conversation and a verse or two of “Silent Night.”

The sleigh parties were indeed festive, with people traveling from the larger cities to Concord to shop, dine and enjoy a show along our Main Street. The White Opera House offered entertainment while the accommodations were varied from the Eagle Hotel to the many inns and taverns boasting a warm bed and a mug of cider.

You see, our ancestors, much like ourselves, did not always portray the vintage, century-old photographs lacking warmth – they desired entertainment and nurtured the beauty a winter’s eve under a bright moonlit night could provide to this quaint New England town that we call home.

The years may have changed since our young great-grandparents traveled the route of the sleigh, but the nostalgic memories still remain. Yes, those memories, which we all hold so closely, bridge the years to our ancestors.

This winter, as you walk down a quiet snow-laden street with the sound of silence your only companion, think back to the joy and simple pleasure the early members of our community found on a cold winter evening. Remember to listen and perhaps you might hear the bell-laden horses as they travel the distant roads surrounding our village here in Concord.

Jim Spain

Historian

Author: Insider Staff

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