When Eva Paine Smith was a little girl, the railroad was constructed through Wellfleet on its way to land’s end in Provincetown (1870′s). This new, convenient mode of transportation enabled more frequent visits to friends and cousins in other towns, visits which had previously been accomplished by sailboat or stagecoach. But the railroad also robbed the schooner packet trade of cargo. In the summer, city visitors poured onto the breezy Cape via railroad to escape the heat and enjoy the seashore, thus establishing the new economy sustained by tourism. The novel is set in the midst of these economic changes, which heralded the demise of the proud Cape Cod mariner tradition.
These folks are posing in front of the open west-facing door of the general store, the afternoon sun in their eyes. The gentleman to the right with a bowler hat is a sea captain, an earned fashion statement of distinction back in the day. Arthur Newcomb, railroad station manager, is also present.
Waiting for the train, South Wellfleet, Massachusetts (Paine family photograph collection)
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