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The Outer Cape’s Christmas train


It might be a little hard to believe that taking the train from the Outer Cape to do your Christmas shopping in Boston was once a free option, but that was indeed the case for some lucky locals during the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Between the end of the Civil War and the earliest years of World War II, the Old Colony Railroad (formerly known as the Cape Cod Central Railroad) passenger service was readily available between Orleans and, eventually, Provincetown.

If you happened to be shareholder in Old Colony Railroad stock, that meant you were eligible to get free tickets to Boston on Stockholders’ Day, an annual event held two days before Thanksgiving. According to Eastham historian Alice Lowe, many people would plan their holiday shopping trips around this arrangement.

However, the rail option didn’t last. Between 1935 and 1967, the railroad gradually vanished from the Lower and Outer Cape towns, making way for the automobile and more modern roads, such as Route 6. The tracks have since been replaced by the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

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Read more about the Outer Cape railroad in Don’s book, A Brief History of Eastham: On the Outer Beach of Cape Cod, from The History Press.


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© 2020 by Don Wilding.

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