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Rails Across Martha's Vineyard

Steam Narrow Gauge and Trolley Lines

by Herman Page

THIS FINE comprehensive history of the Martha's Vineyard Railroad and the Oak Bluffs Street Railway is loaded with the largest collection of photos we have seen of this short-lived narrow-gauge steam railroad and the horse-drawn and electric trolley lines that operated on Martha's Vineyard between 1873 and 1918. A world-famous whaling center in the mid-19th century, the well-known Massachusetts coastal island of Martha's Vineyard became a popular tourist haven by the end of the 19th century, as well as summer home to many wealthy New Englanders and New Yorkers, and home to popular Methodist and Baptist summer camp meetings.

At first accessible only by sandy dirt roads and tracks, the island's six communities got their first horse-drawn trolley line in 1873, and a three-foot narrow gauge steam train line the following year. Continually plagued by financial problems, the Martha's Vineyard Railroad lasted only until 1895, but the island's trolley system was electrified that year, expanded the next year, and survived until 1918.

Rev. Herman Page, a long-time rail enthusiast whose family first acquired land on Martha's Vineyard in 1928 and whose family members still vacation there almost every year, has long held a special interest in the Martha's Vineyard rail systems. He has done an excellent job piecing together the history of the long-defunct lines. He has assembled a fine collection of antique photographs and memorabilia which appear with his clear, detailed text in two book sections of equal length, one devoted to the narrow-gauge steam railroad and one to the Oak Bluffs Street Railway. A fascinating read for anyone interested in New England railroading, narrow-gauge rail lines, and early streetcar and trolley lines.

From South Platte Press . . .

Central Mass

8½" x 11" paperback, 72 pages, 75 photos & illustrations, $19.95

ISBN: 978-0-942035-83-4

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