Cape Cod Railroad
The first railroad to serve the Cape was started in 1847, and ran as far as Sandwich. Ten years later it was extended to Barnstable and Yarmouth. It was originally called the Cape Cod Branch of the Old Colony Railroad. Later, in 1854, the name was changed to the Cape Cod Railroad, and the line extended to Hyannis.
In 1866 the Cape Cod Central was sold to the Cape Cod Railroad, and the line extended from Yarmouth to Orleans, then to Wellfleet, and finally to Provincetown. Branches were added from Buzzards Bay to Woods Hole and from Harwich to Chatham.
For many years the cars were heated by stoves. Not until 1889 were steamheated coaches introduced. With the coming of the railroads the Cape postal service was vastly improved. At the same time the Cape became accessible to the vacationer and summer resident.
In 1979 the railroad tracks from Dennis to points East were removed and the rail line was replaced by the Cape Cod Rail Trail bike trail, a scenic bicycling trail that runs from Dennis to the Cape Cod National Seashore in Wellfleet.
The Cape Cod Central Railroad still operates on the rail lines from Hyannis/Yarmouth to points West, featuring their award winning Dinner Train, a Luncheon Train, the Sunday Brunch Train, a Family Supper Train as well as a Scenic Excursion Train and other special holiday train trips.
Massachusetts Coastal Railroad LLC took over the Cape tracks at the beginning of 2008, replacing Bay Colony Railroad Corp., the company that has run the state-owned rail line since 1982.
Cape Cod Railroad Timeline
April 6, 1846: Cape Cod Branch Railroad incorporated.
1872: Cape Cod Railroad reaches Woods Hole and Provincetown. Cape Cod Railroad merges with Old Colony and Newport to become Old Colony Railroad.
1894: Old Colony Railroad is leased to New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.1938: Regular passenger service to Provincetown ends.
1959: Year-round daily passenger service to the Cape ends, although daily service continues in the summer through 1964.
1976: CONRAIL is formed. The state purchases tracks from Middleboro to Hyannis and Falmouth, with CONRAIL providing freight service to the towns.
1979: The Cape Cod Rail Trail bicycle trail opens on the former 22 miles of tracks through the towns of Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet.
1982: Bay Colony Railroad takes over freight service. The Cape Cod and Hyannis Railroad begins passenger service on a seasonal and scenic basis. This operation ends in 1988.
1989: Cape Cod Railroad forms to provide tourist passenger service.
May 1997: Amtrak cancels its Cape run after 11 seasons. Cape Cod Railroad goes out of business.
1999: After a year of no passenger service on Cape Cod, the Cape Cod Central Railroad forms and offers dinner and scenic trains.
2001: A proposal for a ‘feeder’ passenger service between Cape Cod and Middleboro gains momentum.
2006: The Cape Cod Central Railroad is purchased by 1999 co-founder John Kennedy and partners Chris Podgurski, Andrew Reardon and Ted Michon.
September 2007: The state transfers control of railroad tracks from Bay Colony Railroad to Mass Coastal Railroad.
2008: Cape Cod Central Railroad proposes to run several trips each day from Cape Cod to the Lakeville/Middleboro station, where passengers could catch the state’s commuter rail to Boston.
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