24. Chatham Railroad Museum
The Chatham Railroad Museum is contained in the beautifully restored 1887 railroad depot that served Chatham residents and visitors for many years. Featuring an architectural style called Railroad Gothic, the depot remains on its original site, and is the only original railroad station remaining on Cape Cod.
Founded in 1886, the Chatham Railroad Company built seven miles of track from the Old Colony Railroad Mainline in Harwich to Chatham, along with a yard and two stations. The Honorable Marcellus Eldredge, who had made a fortune in the brewery business, was President of the company. The track and stations in Chatham and South Chatham were completed during 1887. The Chatham Railroad Company owned no rolling stock but leased its track and stations to others, first to the Old Colony railroad, then starting in 1893 to the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. Four passenger trains a day carried residents and visitors to and from Boston. During 1891, the Chatham Railroad Company served the needs of 22,000 passengers at its two stations, with baggage and express service to the hotels and inns springing up in Chatham and South Chatham. Goods included mail, lumber, grain and coal being shipped in, and mail, fish, shellfish and cranberries being shipped out.
Service on the Chatham Railroad ceased in 1937 but the railroad depot in Chatham remained in use. During WWII, it was used as a scrap storage facility, and later as a Sea Scout meeting hall. In 1960, the depot became the home of the Chatham Railroad Museum. The property is owned by the Town of Chatham, and the Museum is operated entirely by volunteers. The Museum contains hundreds of exhibits, and the New York Central model locomotives in use at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The Museum is child friendly and includes a 1910 restored caboose available for children to explore.