Eastham Railroad and Depot

When I was 6, my parents purchased Homer Smith Cottages cottages on Depot Pond in 1966. They renamed them Gibson Cottages and I spent summers in Eastham. I have a vague memory of watching a train cross Locust Road. I have often wondered what it must have been like to have a train run through Eastham. In recent years, I have become interested in collecting photos/images of the railroad, the depot, and trains in Eastham. This is what I have found. I update it as I find more.

If you have photos that you would be willing to let me share, please contact me at nate@nategibson.net.


“Glimpses of Eastham’s Past” from Eastham “Vactionist’s Handbook” 1958, Booklet. Internet Archive. Eastham Chamber of Commerce, 1958. https://archive.org/details/2010EasthamGuidebook/1958%20Eastham%20Vacationists%20Handbook/mode/2up, Accessed 25 February 2024. 


Postcards


Many of the images of Eastham’s railroad station are captured in postcards.

1911 Postcard of Eastham Railroad Station and two water towers.

See also Eldredge, Andrew T. Railroads of Cape Cod and the Islands, Arcadia Publishing, 2003.


Postcard of Eastham station. The photographer’s wife is on the left.
See also Eastham Depot posted by Gloria Schropfer on Pinterest


The back of the postcard reads: “View of the Eastham railroad depot showing structures on the north and south sides of Samoset Road. With the depot on the southeast side and the frieght house and water tank on the northeast side.”

The postcard with text is from Seaboldt, James. “Railroad depot.” Photograph. Digital Commonwealth, http://openarchives.umb.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15774coll6/id/10415 (accessed February 25, 2024).

See also Railroad Station, Eastham, Mass.jpg. Scanned postcard., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The back of early postcard reads “Published by H. A. Dickerman & Son, Taunton, Mass.”

Unknown photographer. “Railroad Station, Eastham, Mass.” Postcard, circa 1920. Published by H. A. Dickerman & Son.


The back of the postcard reads: “Eastham depot on southeast side of Samoset Road, showing southern water tank. Also shown is the spur siding which was used as a car drop for delivering goods to a frieght dock alongside George Clark’s General Store. This siding also allowed trains in opposite direction to pass. Location: Samoset Road.”

The postcard with text is from Seaboldt, James. “Railroad station with water tower.” Photograph. Digital Commonwealth, https://openarchives.umb.edu/digital/collection/p15774coll6/id/10433/rec/3 (accessed February 25, 2024).
See also Eastham, MA Railroad Station – ca. 1907.jpg. Scanned postcard., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Eastham station 1915 postcard
eBay item 392971382055, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, accessed 25 February 2024.


Photos from Books by Noel W. Beyle


Noel W. Beyle collected amazing photos of Eastham and Cape Cod in his many books.

Train to Boston
Beyle, Noel W. Eastham Illustrated. The First Encounter Press, 1978.

“The old water windmill north of the Eastham railroad complex. It drew water from Long Pond (recently called Depot or Mill Pond) mainly to feed trains going down the Cape to Provincetown. Wind turned the sails on top, powering a pump to move water from the Pond to elevated storage tanks just a few hundred feet up the tracks.”
Beyle, Noel W. Eastham Illustrated. The First Encounter Press, 1978.


“On the left is the old water tank for trains stopping in Eastham, with water being pumpt to it from teh windmill at the end of the Pond (center).
From Beyle, Noel W. Go Eastham Young Man! Or Eastham or Bust! The Innermost House, 1977


From Beyle, Noel W. Eastham Illustrated. The First Encounter Press, 1978.


“view overlooking Ice House Pond. In this picture, the water tank to the north had yet to be built. Trains then used the older tank south of the depot, with water being piped from the windmill on Long Pond.”
Beyle, Noel W. Eastham Illustrated. The First Encounter Press, 1978.


Eastham Library and Eastham Historical Society


“Eastham RR Station — loading the train.” Photograph. Eastham Historical Society. Eastham Historical Society. https://www.easthamhistoricalsociety.org/gallery, accessed 25 February 2024.


“Eastham depot.” Photograph. August 1905. Digital Commonwealth, https://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/n8710d287 (accessed February 25, 2024).


Source: Early Eastham Photo of the Rail Road Area Donated by John Wallace : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive


Fairchild Aerial Surveys


Fairchild Aerial Surveys, inc. “Great Pond.” Photograph. December 2, 1928. Digital Commonwealth, https://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/n8710822r (accessed February 25, 2024).


Water towers can be seen in this part of the aerial view of Cedar Banks golf course, 1928.
Fairchild Aerial Surveys, inc. “Cedar Bank Links, aerial view.” Photograph. December 2, 1928. Digital Commonwealth, https://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/n8710756c (accessed October 30, 2023).


North Eastham Station



Unknown author. “North Eastham station 1929 postcard.jpg” Photograph, Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:North_Eastham_station_1929_postcard.jpg, accessed 25 February 2024.


Unknown Author. North Eastham station 1930s postcard.jpg. eBay item 392972836315, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:North_Eastham_station_1930s_postcard.jpg, accessed 25 February 2024


Postcard of North Eastham Railroad station.


Ben Grouch’s photographs of trains in Eastham


These are photos that I purchased on E-Bay. On the back of two of them, it says “Photo by Ben Grouch” but they are all similar and from a similar time frame, so I assume that Ben took all of them.






Tom Nelligan’s Photos


Tom Nelligan, Thomas J. Nelligan, Jr. (1951-2021) took thousands of photos trains and was the author of a number of books (I counted 10 on Amazon) about railroading. See Author, photographer Tom Nelligan dies at age 70 and B&MRRHS January 2023 Meeting: The B&M Photography of Tom Nelligan. He took two photos of trains in Orleans either heading to or returning from Eastham. They be found at NH on the outer Cape: The NERAIL New England Railroad Photo Archive and NH on the outer Cape: The NERAIL New England Railroad Photo Archive. They can also be found here: NH on the outer Cape and NH on the outer Cape on the The GreatRails North American Railroad Photo Archive

This is my favorite of the two photos. My guess is that this is a train the crossing Locust Road or Canal Road in Orleans.

NH on the outer Cape
On its way back to Hyannis from North Eastham at dusk, New Haven local freight NX-20 crosses a back road in Orleans, MA, with an RS-3/RS-2 duo up front. The NH trackage between South Dennis and North Eastham was abandoned a few months later.”
Photographed by Tom Nelligan, August, 1965.

Source: NH on the outer Cape: The NERAIL New England Railroad Photo Archive; and NH on the outer Cape: The GreatRails North American Railroad Photo Archive


NH on the outer Cape
This photo and my next one are of poor technical quality — they were taken long ago with a simple snapshot camera — but I figure they may be of historical interest since they show a line abandoned in 1965, seen shortly before the end. Here New Haven local freight NX-20 has arrived at Orleans, MA, with two boxcars that will be set off on the freight house spur at right. The RS-3/RS-2 duo will then continue on to the sand pit at North Eastham with the hoppers and swap out empties for loads. Sand traffic was the main business on this line at the end. Photographed by Tom Nelligan, August, 1965.”

Source: NH on the outer Cape: The NERAIL New England Railroad Photo Archive. See also NH on the outer Cape: The GreatRails North American Railroad Photo Archive


In the Barnstable Patriot, Ruth Weissberger wrote a terrific article on Cape Cod Railroads which included the photo of the train crossing Route 6 near Gertrude’s Beach Box (formerly Bill’s Place and now  Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar). The photo is courtesy of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Weissberger, Ruth. “Cape Cod Railroads” The Barnstable Patriot, May 5, 2020. https://www.barnstablepatriot.com/story/news/2020/05/05/cape-cod-railroads/1243169007/, accessed 25 February 2024.


Additional Resources

For more information about the railroad in Eastham or on Cape Cod, see

  1. The NERAIL New England Railroad Photo Archive and The GreatRails North American Railroad Photo Archive
  2. Town of Eastham, Nashua City Station. “Nashua City Station is a public display of pieces from the private collection of Matthew Cosgro. Nashua City Station Railroad History captures and shares the early lifeblood of our communities – the railroads that criss-crossed New Hampshire.” See Eastham Stations
  3. Eastham Historical Society Gallery
  4. Railroads of Cape Cod and the Islands by Andrew T. Eldredge (2003)
  5. A Brief History of Eastham by Don Wilding
  6. Eastham by Marilyn C. SchofieldRoberta Cornish and Eastham Historical Society
  7. Books by Noel W. Beyle.