South Dennis to Provincetown

Picture Point of Interest

GOOGLE MAPS no longer available: With apologies, I am unable to continue showing Google Maps. Google has forced my hand by increasing their map usage fee from nothing/free to OVER $300 A MONTH for the Abandoned Rails website! This is an expense that I simply cannot afford. Rest assured I am looking at available open source alternatives, so maps should be back online soon!

Greg Harrison

(Forwarded from the Old Colony Railroad)

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The Cape Cod Rail Trail at Nickerson State Park, looking southwest from just south of the intersection of Crosby Lane and State Route 6A/Old King's Highway/Main Street. This trail sees heavy bike traffic on good weather days. Photo by Kevin M. Smith, August 2010.

This line was part of the original Old Colony Railroad line that ran passenger service between Boston and Provincetown in Massachusetts. The line was originally built by the Cape Cod Central Railroad in 1865, and purchased by the Cape Cod Railroad in 1868. The railroad line reached Provincetown in 1873.

The tracks to Provincetown were removed in the 1930s under the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Today, the southern half of the right-of-way hosts the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

I located a possible spur off of this mainline, and also took several photos along the Cape Cod Rail Trail during a visit to Cape Cod this past week. I'll send the information and photos along as time permits. One thing's for sure...the Cape Cod Rail Trail sees some very heavy bike traffic on good weather days!

Kevin M. Smith
Cicero, NY


the line from N. Eastham to Provincetown was removed in October of 1960. I remember trains on that branch prior to the lst train in August of 1960. My grandparents lived in Wellfleet. Their driveway ended right into one of the few overpasses on that line.

Pres Greenman
Petaluma, CA


Anyone have or know of any photos of the train that scrapped the line? I was told it was a yellow 44. GE 44 tonner.

hyannis , MA


Chris from Hyannis,

Email me : thomaspgreenman2@.aolcom.

The train/operation which removed the rails from P'town to Eastham was utilized an engine which was like a 44 tonner but older. It was black with a yellow stripe around the frame footboards steps and front grab iron just above the frame for those riding the footboard. The picture I have shows it as best I can tell as having siderods. It looks like an early version of the GE 45 tonner. What was used from Eastham to S. Dennis I do not know.

Pres Greenman

Pres Greenman
Petaluma, CA


I can recall going on a picnic to Nauset Rock with my parents in the late 50's and seeing hopper cars in Eastham. They were picking up sand for the New Haven. Also, does anyone recall the crossing that was on the Mid Cape in the Harwich area? Once I had to stop for a train with an RS-2 leading, and despite having crossing signals, they flagged the crossing.

Henry B.
Falmouth, MA


Henry B. The local which was pretty much the only train using the branch (with the exception of a couple of excursions using RDCs)was powered by RS-2s and/or RS-3s, as a rule. Crossings were flagged even when warning by flashers was used. In the case of the Mid Cape highway the road speed was too much for the trains not to stop and for the crews to make sure road traffic was stopped as well. This took a couple of extra minutes but not nearly as long as a train - auto accident would have, not to mention all the other events which could have occurred. Motorists using the Mid Cape highway were usually driving at speeds greater than 50 mph and were hell bent in reaching their vacation destinations. Rail traffic to many motorists was not at all taken seriously so that ounce of prevention was literally worth tons of cure. Couple this with lax drinking and driving practices by those in vacation mode and the flagging of crossings was even more a necessity. The Mid Cape highway was dangerous enough by itself as back in the day it had only two lanes for a much greater portion of its overall length. The train was operated at very slow speeds particularly to the end of service on the branch as track conditions deteriorated continuously with virtually no track maintenance done on the branch. Feel free to email me and if you like we can exchange phone numbers and I will gladly share what little I know.

Pres Greenman
Mendocino, CA


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Do you have any pictures or information about South Dennis to Provincetown? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.