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Martha’s Vineyard has an airport and it certainly has its share of cars, and of course it has boats, did you know though there once was a railroad on the Vineyard? In the the book: The History of Martha’s Vineyard by Arthur R Railton, you’ll find that indeed there was one, the Martha’s Vineyard Railroad.
It was built in 1874 and ran along the beach from Oak Bluffs to Katama. Storms often washed the tracks out and expensive repairs were needed. It had its share of problems and eventually in 1900 the bankrupt railroad stopped running.
There was actually another railroad that’s sort of connected to MV. The old New York/New Haven/Hartford railroad. Its Old Colony line used to go all the way to Woods Hole. The station was located where the parking lot for the ferry is today.
When my mother and I would go to MV every year to spend the summer we would take a train from Pennsylvania Station in Newark, NJ to Grand Central Station in NYC where we would change trains.
We would have to run from one end of the station to the other to board the New York/New Haven & Hartford’s train on the Old Colony line called the Day Cape Codder, which would take us all the way from New York City to Woods Hole, MA. That’s right, all the way to Woods Hole.
The train stopped at what is now the staging area for cars waiting to get onto the ferries. The tracks ran under the overpass in the left corner of the above photograph. It was literally only steps from train to boat. A comfortable and luxurious way to travel in the days when lots of people didn’t have cars and the road system left a lot to be desired anyway. The trains had dining cars with each table dressed in fancy tablecloths and crisply ironed napkins. The waiters and conductors were always the same and seemed to remember me from year to year… made me feel special and grown up. Train service to Woods Hole ended in the 1960′s.
From the train we’d board the ferry, Nobska and sail to Oak Bluffs where
our relatives would pick us up and three glorious months on the Vineyard would begin.
(For more information on the NOBSKA/NANTUCKET, the last American coastal steamer, which ended its sailing days in 1973 please CLICK HERE).
(For more information on the Martha’s Vineyard Railroad please CLICK HERE).
- by Joan -
The eastern half of Martha’s Vineyard is called Down-Island and the western half is called Up-Island. Why you ask? To confuse you, that’s why. Not really, at least not on purpose. There is a very logical reason and here it is according to the MV website.
” Up-Island is the western area, which comprises the three rural towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury. Down-Island is the eastern portion, home to the larger historic villages of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven (also known as Tisbury). The two terms come from the rich seagoing tradition of Martha’s Vineyard, which once sent its whaling ships circuling the globe heading “up” in nautical terms takes you “west” because it’s further from zero degrees of longitude in Greenwich, England, home of the Prime Meridian.”
Got all that ! Me neither.
Well then, according to the Guide to Martha’s Vineyard we have this explanation. “When a ship sails in an easterly direction, it is decreasing or running “down” the degrees of longitude toward zero at Greenwich, England. A westbound vessel, on the other hand, is running “up” its longitude. Thus the Down-Island town are those on the eastern and northeastern end of the Island. The Up-Island communities are at the western end. A ship moving through Vineyard Sound sails “up” to New York and “down” east to Maine.” Ah ha.
OK, I’m still confused but I do know how to get from Down-Island to Up-Island and not get lost… it’s an Island, how lost could one get anyway.
But that’s not the only confusion about the Vineyard … she had an identity crisis at one time involving Massachusetts and New York.
Martha! Martin! New York! Massachusetts! How many aliases and states have claimed this 100 sq mile island? The Wampanoags named it Noepe and that stuck until Bartholomew Gosnold came along in 1602.
No one seems to know who the Martin was whose name was once attached to the Vineyard… so let’s move ahead to Martha whose identity is still shrouded in myth. Was she one of Gosnold’s daughters, or his mother, or the name of an English royal. Whoever she was her name stuck and in my opinion has a nicer ring to it then Martin’s Vineyard.
According to the book “The History of Martha’s Vineyard” by Arthur R. Railton, in 1664 Charles II gave NY, NJ and the islands to the east to his brother, the Duke of York. In 1670 Thomas Mayhew, Jr and his grandson Matthew of Massachusetts traveled to NY to ask Gov Lovelace which colony his Island was under… New York or Massachusetts. Gov Lovelace made Thomas Mayhew “Governor for Life” of Martha’s Vineyard and gave him the authority to collect rents from all who lived within its bounds. Voila, Martha’s Vineyard Massachusetts. History lesson over.
Off the beaten track but well worth visiting are:
Down a dirt road in the woods of West Tisbury near Indian Hill, is Christiantown.
Christiantown was established in 1659 by Wampanoag sachem Takemmy as a home for Native American converts to Christianity.
A plaque on the above boulder commemorates “the services of Governor Thomas Mayhew and his descended missionaries who here labored among the native Indians.”
By 1600 there were two or three congregations of Native Americans on the Island.
The Christiantown Meeting House, or chapel was built in 1829. There is a tiny altar and six pews inside… nearby is an old graveyard. This is a wonderful place for hiking or a walk in the woods.
The Wampanoag tribe now owns the memorial, the chapel and the burial ground containing graves of early converts.
My mother’s step-cousin, Harold Rogers was born in this house in Indian Hill in 1911. He lived in this house, built in 1752, until he died. He was quite a guy. He was a master at building things and he could fix absolutely anything. Over the years he added on to the family homestead, and when there wasn’t anymore he could do there he turned his sights to –
— the one room school house up the road where he’d gone to school. He purchased the school house and set about renovating it. When his daughter got married she and her husband moved into it. I had the pleasure of going there for dinner and I was in awe. The original wooden floors had been beautifully restored, but more than that, you could see clearly the marks where the desks had once been. A couple of the desks had been salvaged and were part of the living room. The closet was, of course the former cloak room with, the original coat hooks. And to top things off <grin> the school bell was once again working. I hardly ever enjoyed being in a classroom quite as much as I did that night at dinner.
The 10th in the series of trivia questions.
Give it a go and see how well you do. Don’t peek at the answers
1 – Which town is the only town in the world with its name.
2 – What is the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs made of.
3 – Why did Alexander Graham Bell visit MV in 1895.
4 – Which is further north, West Chop or East Chop.
5 – What is the name of the local Portuguese sausage.
Some picture trivia.
6 – What is the name of this island off of Gay Head.
7 – What town is this.
8 – What town is this and where is this window.
9 – Where is this statue.
Let me know how you did, leave your answers in ‘comments’
1 – Edgartown is the only town in the world with its name.
2 – brick
4 – West Chop is further north.
5 – linguica
6 – the small island off Gay Head is Nomans Land (click here)
7 – Edgartown
8 – Oak Bluffs. The window is at the back of the Tabernacle.
9 – The Colonial Inn in Edgartown.
(CLICK HERE for previous trivia questions)
You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You’re the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev’ry heart beats true
‘neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.
Sunday, April 15th is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
I’d like to share my experience at the Titanic exhibit two years ago.
My daughter Deb and I went to NYC to see the Titanic exhibit at the Discovery Times Square Expositions building. It has since closed in NYC and moved on to other cities, but you can CLICK HERE to see the exhibit promo.
As you enter the Titanic exhibit you’re given a boarding pass of an actual passenger … you find out at the end of the exhibit whether you survived or not. My third class passenger was Catherine Joseph, she was 24, married and mother of two small children. They all survived. Deb was Nora Hogarty, 18 who was sailing to America to join an order of nuns. She did not survive.
The exhibit was interesting, painstakingly put together and quite haunting.
These workmen are dwarfed by the Titanic’s giant propellers.
As promised in my last post, here is the NY Public Library on 5th Ave.
The cornerstone was laid in May 1902. It was completed in 1910 but it took another year for all the books to be moved in. The library was officially opened at a dedication ceremony in May 1911.
Let’s enter …
(You can click on pictures to enlarge)
The reason Deb and I were at the library in the first place was to see a small exhibit they had on the wonderful PBS Masterpiece series ‘Downton Abbey.’ Turns out the exhibit was across the street but had we known that we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of exploring this beautiful building.
Of the six lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard I think the Gay Head lighthouse in Aquinnah has the most dramatic and beautiful setting.
This picture of Gay Head lighthouse was taken by me around 1960. I believe the building is the Coast Guard station which was being removed as it was too close to the edge due to the erosion of the cliffs.
This picture is from 2010.
According to the book “Guide to Martha’s Vineyard” the original lighthouse was one of the first revolving ones in the country; often the wooden works became swollen in damp weather, and the keeper or his wife was obliged to turn the light by hand all night long. In 1856 this was replaced by a larger steel structure that housed a stronger light with a Fresnel lens. In 1952 the present automatic light was erected, and the old lens was given to the Vineyard Museum.”