Railroad Wharf Provincetown Cape Cod Sailing Vessels

Provincetown Railroad Wharf

Railroad Wharf

This postcard, a hand colored photograph, was mailed from Provincetown Massachusetts to Bethehem  New Hampshire in 1908. Titled  “Fishing & Pleasure Boats, Railroad Wharf, Provincetown, Mass” it was published by The Robinson Brothers in Boston and was printed in Germany and distributed by the Metropolitan News Company.
It is a lovely picture which shows the gracefulness of the sailboats used for recreation and the handsome schooners used for fishing. Before there was  a Macmillan Wharf, the main downtown wharf in Provincetown was known as Railroad Wharf because the railroad tracks ran all the way down to the end in order to easily load fish off the fishing boats for shipping (with some ice of course) straight to major cities that included New York. It was back in the days when men wore bowler derby hats and a child might carry a parasol. Horses and carts were still being used, along with the first automobiles. That was long ago and times have changed. The town on the tip of Cape Cod continues to evolve. What was it like a few decades ago? To get an impression, read the new mystery novel Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook. Available online where books are sold and locally in Provincetown at the Provincetown bookshop (autographed). Like us on facebook and keep the conversation growing.

Fishing in Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown fishermen baiting up trawl

Provincetown fishermen baiting up trawl


Provincetown once had a booming fishing industry. The harbor on the tip of Cape Cod was filled with fishing boats in early morning, on their way out to sea, heading as far as Georges Bank, the most westward of the great Atlantic fishing banks.  Sought after fish species included cod, haddock, herring, and flounder.  While the fish populations have decreased due to the high demand for seafood, fishing is still an important part of the Cape Cod economy. A common way of fishing in the 19th and early 20th century was called trawling. Large nets were used to drag behind the boat to gather up fish.  Thus the term dragger referred to boats that were trawlers.  Fishing boats would also troll with baited line.   Dragging baited lines behind a boat is referred to as trolling. The antique postcard above shows fishermen in Provincetown, Massachusetts baiting trawl.

Provincetown developed alternative ways to support its economy by promoting tourism and the arts. It’s a great town to visit and to read about. Don’t forget to put Remaining in Provincetown on your reading list this summer. It’s a novel with more than one mystery in the plot.