The Chatham Railroad Company


Founded in 1886, the Chatham Railroad Company was chartered to build seven miles of track from the Old Colony Railroad Mainline in Harwich to Chatham along with a yard and three stations. The Honorable Marcellus Eldredge who made a fortune in the brewery business was President of the company. The track and stations were completed during 1887, with mail, express, lumber, grain, groceries, stone for shore protection, steel for the Naval Air Station, gasoline and lubricants, road asphalt, coal, and electrical material for wiring Chatham shipped in. Mail, express, fresh fish, salted fish, shellfish and cranberries were shipped out. Four passenger trains a day and a freight train when needed served the needs of Chatham residents and visitors. During 1891, the Chatham Railroad Company served the needs of 22,000 passengers at its two Chatham stations and a flag stop with baggage and express service to the hotels and inns springing up in Chatham and South Chatham. The Chatham Railroad Company owned no rolling stock but leased its track and stations first to the Old Colony Railroad and then in 1893, to the New York New Haven and Hartford Railroad. Service on the Chatham Railroad ceased in 1937, when highways on Cape Cod were improved enabling better travel over hard surfaced roads. However, the railroad depot in Chatham remained and became the home of the Chatham Railroad Museum.