SUMMER 2017: Wellfleet’s Railroad runs through Labor Day weekend, and reopens for Oysterfest (October 14-15, 2017).
Wellfleet’s Railroad Newcomers may find it hard to believe that trains once rolled through Wellfleet but for those whose memories go back to the first half of the twentieth century, recollections of the railroad remain indelible. Our 2017 exhibition focuses on Wellfleet’s railroad infrastructure and its role at a time when the town was transitioning from a fishing-driven to a tourist-based economy. We present Wellfleet’s railroad story through vintage photos, archival materials and artifacts, which include holdings from private collectors and other museums. A Lionel passenger train that runs through the first gallery mesmerizes younger guests and rekindles fond memories from older visitors. Displays include rare lanterns and signal lamps, turn-of-the-century railroad signs, railroad telegraph equipment and documents. Wellfleet’s role in communications history cannot be overlooked; the first transatlantic message to be received at the Marconi Station in South Wellfleet
was relayed to President Theodore Roosevelt via railroad telegraph from the South Wellfleet depot. The exhibit examines the good as well as the bad; Wellfleet witnessed a wreck and steam locomotives sparked fires. Railroads connect communities, and the town’s story would not be complete without looking at how the Cape’s railroad came to exist. Historical Society researchers have gathered information on 56 stations that once existed on the Cape’s railroad system. Our exhibit also looks at the Night Boats. The Fall River Line, owned by the railroad, brought passengers from New York to Cape Cod on the most opulent coastal steamers in the country; Colonel Richard Borden was the visionary behind the railroad and the steamships. While Borden family members achieved success through industry and innovation (Borden’s Sweetened Condensed Milk), it was Lizbeth Andrew Borden, and her alleged skills with garden implements, that cemented the family name in history. Lizzie Borden took an axe…