In May, 1924, the name of the Silver Lake railroad station became a hot political issue in Wilmington and South Tewksbury. The Boston & Maine Railroad was contemplating changing the name of the station to West Wilmington. Maybe somebody thought passengers buying tickets to Silver Lake confused it with other lakes of the same name in Massachusetts.
The railroad station was at the end of Wild Avenue, off Grove Avenue. The station was popular with city folk wanting to visit Silver Lake and with businessmen wanting a fast ride to Boston. There was one train, the Businessman’s Express, that could reach Boston in 19 minutes. It started in Nashua, made one stop at Silver Lake at 8:11 a.m. From there, it would highball it straight to North Station, arriving at 8:30.
Many families from Boston and the inner suburbs first came to Wilmington via the train, when Silver Lake was a popular resort.
The name Silver Lake was adopted sometime in the mid-1800s, probably to suit the ice business. The lake had previously been called Sandy Pond. Probably ice from Silver Lake would be much more appealing than Sandy Pond ice.
Although the station was in the western part of town, there was no village center called West Wilmington. There was no direct access to the station from anywhere west of the tracks.
The proponents and opponents of the name change quickly developed political alliances, and the matter ended up before the Board of Selectmen. The selectmen, Frank Dayton, Carl Pettengill and Charles Perry decided that public feeling was so strong, it should be decided by a vote of the citizens.
Among the reasons given was confusion with other resorts using the name Silver Lake. Those opposed said they have receive mail from all over the country, with no confusion. The railroad disclaimed any preference.
Many of those who prefer the West Wilmington were residents of Tewksbury. They had no vote, however, being non-residents.
A hearing was scheduled for May 19, 1924. Chairman Frank Dayton would act as moderator, in spite of having an injured ankle. The 1924 town report has no report of the outcome of that hearing. The name, however, was not changed.
The station is long gone and Wild Avenue is overgrown.
“No longer does the train stop at Silver Lake,” wrote Lou Connolly, “where as a teenager I once kissed a girlfriend good-bye and boarded a train for Somerville.”
Connolly’s story was published in Gerry O’Reilly’s Silver Lake Memories.