Martha's Vineyard Railroad

martha's vineyard train

Martha’s Vineyard Railroad Had a Very Short Ride

For 21 years — from the late summers of 1874 through 1895 — a passenger train chuffed along a route that looks inconceivably imposing to us today: from what’s now the Oak Bluffs Steamship Authority wharf, over the very sands of State Beach, through the fairways and greens of the Edgartown Golf Club, perpendicularly across Upper Main street, along the border of not one but two cemeteries and into what are now the subdivisions and farmlands of Katama before terminating at two dead ends: the dunes of South Beach and a hotel at Mattakessett whose ugliness was rivaled only by its windswept isolation and self-evident vulnerability to fire.

When the Island Echoed to the Locomotive’s Whistle

These were the last survivors of the Vineyard’s most ambitious project. Of course the right of way is an intangible thing at best to any but the owners. And it was sold. As for the streak of rust. Well, a spirit of economy which never characterized the scheme in its heyday finally removed the rails of the first and last railroad on the island.

The Vineyard Railroad

In its issue of Saturday evening last the New Bedford Standard published the following as a special dispatch from Boston:
Boston, July 11. - As a preliminary measure in the proceedings against the Martha’s Vineyard Railroad company for opening its road without the Boards approval, the Railroad Commissioners have under consideration the issuing of a public notice to the effect that the condition of the road has not been approved by the Board, and that it is unsafe for public travel.

Old Colony Assumes Control: The Martha’s Vineyard Railroad Taken Possession Of

Mr. J. R. Kendrick, General Manager of the Old Colony Railroad, and other officials of that road, visited the Island last Monday, and he is now general manager of the Vineyard road, having taken possession of the property in behalf of the trustees, Messrs. Chas. F. Choate and Frederick L. Ames.

The Rail Road

All difficulties have at last been overcome, and the iron horse now speeds from Oak Bluffs to Katama and returns with the swiftness of the wind. The snort of the engine strikes upon the ear and reverberates over hill and dale, waking up the dormant energies of man, and causing the cattle on a hundred hills to skip and jump like rams.

The Trial Trip

Martha’s Vineyard, Aug. 24th, 1874:
[Correspondence of the Gazette]

The Vineyard Railroad

Dacey Brothers, of Neponset, have taken the contract to build the railroad. They are under bonds to have the road completed and ready for the rolling stock by July 20th.

Town Meeting

“To be or not to be” - stock or no stock - railroad or no railroad - was the principal question before the community last Saturday, and the town and its “dependencies” (?) turned out en masse to meet the emergency. Every able-bodied voter was in attendance, and the people seemed determined that the matter shouldn’t go by default.

Hon. J. T. Pease was chosen moderator.

The second article of the warrant, “To see if the town would subscribe to the stock of the Martha’s Vineyard Railroad,” &c., coming up, Mr. Samuel Osborn submitted the following resolution:

Martha’s Vineyard Railroad Company

At a meeting of the associate subscribers to stock to form a corporation, to be called the Martha’s Vineyard Railroad Company, Feb. 24, 1874, Samuel Osborn, Jr., was chosen Chairman, and Shubael L. Norton, Secretary.

Voted, To elect a committee of three, to nominate temporary directors of said company. N. M. Jernegan, E. Marchant and G. N. Collins were elected.

Martha’s Vineyard Railroad Company

At a preliminary meeting of those interested in the proposed railroad, held at Samuel Osborn’s office, in Edgartown, on Tuesday evening last, the necessary officers were chosen to effect an organization. The gentlemen present were all harmonious in their opinions, and there was but one expression in reference to the contemplated undertaking.