This blog highlights some of my adventures with the focus on railroad history. Originally intended as a blog of my rail trail rides, it now also includes hikes, railroad trips and even stop-and-go car trips if they are railroad history related...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cape Cod Rail Trail

I began from the Dennis trail head at 10 am. It was a sunny day and the parking lot was already packed! The whole trip was a little over 22 miles (44 plus miles round trip) and quite uneventful.
At the start
The trail was paved the entire way and riding was smooth - so smooth my FitBit gave me less than half the steps I garnered for the Airline Trail I rode yesterday - bummer! The few hills were long and gradual and never were tiring. Truth be told - it was pretty boring but the few railroad history and nature signage along the way were nicely done and made the trip a little more interesting.

One of the few "trackside" places to buy something 
A salt marsh
One of many informative signs
There were a few places where you had to deviate from the original ROW to cross major highways, etc. but for the most part it was straight and super smooth the entire way.
Typical Straight Stretch
Surprisingly (for Cape Cod) most of the trail was very rural with little commercial activity near the trail. Fortunately the rail trail goes right through the center of Orleans and I stopped for coffee at a lovely coffee shop for a super charge of strong coffee both on the way up and on the return trip back. It was right across from this informative sign:
Nice write up about the train and Orleans
This advertisement in front of the shop is priceless - Abbey Road anyone?
This gave me a chuckle...
When I finally reached the trail's end, I was hungry and dismayed to find only an expensive French Bistro ($5.50 for a hot dog! You gotta be kidding me!). Luckily, I rode back south a bit and found a great spot: a pizza bar and grill a little off the trail and chowed down a chicken cutlet sub, cole slaw and sloshed it down with a Whale's Tale Ale - ooo yeah!

It became windy and overcast and I was sure it would rain but I made it all the way back without even a sprinkle!

Super Short Video (46 seconds)

About the Former Railroad

The Cape Cod Rail Trail follows the former Old Colony Railroad right-of-way. The railroad laid the tracks linking Boston and Sandwich in 1848, and by 1873, it had pushed all the way to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. [The Cape Cod Central Railroad merged with the Cape Cod Railroad in 1868. Its line later became part of the Old Colony Railroad in 1872. In 1873, Old Colony finished extending the line to Provincetown.]
Google Street View of the Bass River Crossing
The Old Colony Railroad system stretched across southeastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island. It operated from 1845 to 1893.

In 1893, the entire 617-mile network was acquired by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. After this date, all trains, lines, and stations became known as the "Old Colony Division" of the huge New Haven system.

Passenger Service
Regular passenger service to Provincetown ended in 1938 and in 1959 all passenger service operated by the company on Cape Cod ceased. Freight transport hung on until the mid-1960s.

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