Hyannis Harbor has gone through many transformations in its centuries of use, but none more dramatic than the period from the 1850s into the early twentieth century, when a long railroad spur and wharf turned Hyannis into a major maritime hub.
Few vestiges of that commercial expression remain, replaced by other kinds of economic activity that reflect the changing economy of the Cape, more focused on summer, tourism, and ferry traffic. Then as now, commercial fishing also makes good use of Hyannis, though with a lower profile than many other pastimes.
These historic images, courtesy of the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis, some of which appear in an exhibit presently at the museum, help draw the past back into the present.
Granite blocks created the strength and stability necessary to extend the railroad wharf 1000 feet.
A detail of Hyannis in a map from the early 20th century; note six fish shanties shown at the end of “Camp Street.”
Hundreds of schooners, mostly coasters, plied the outer harbor.
The bay was shallow and marshy, allowing only small skiffs to pull up to the fish shanties until dredging deepened the harbor in the 1920s and 1930s. Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Old Yarmouth.
The home with white siding, to the left, matches the home in the historic photo of the former fish shanties and sets the location.
The Hyannisport Railroad Wharf, built in 1854, was in service for almost 80 years.
Hyannis’ inner harbor today, off-season.
Hyannis Harbor still has a commercial presence.