From the Archives – A History Mystery

by Susan F. Witzell

In January 2014, our director Jennifer Gaines received a phone call from Jeff Sauvé, Associate Norwegian-American Historical Association Archivist from Northfield Minnesota. He had been given four photo albums. Three had Norwegian scenes and people and the fourth had images of Woods Hole. One of the names attached the photo album was Vedeler. Jeff’s wonderful volunteer, Dale Hovland, discovered that there was an Arnoldt Vedeler living in Falmouth (Woods Hole) listed in the 1910 Census. And so Jeff contacted us.

I took on the job of helping Jeff with this. Initially he and I talked for a long time on the phone. Then the emails began flying back and forth.

I knew the name Vedeler from our extensive Gulesian-Fish Family Collection. Paul Gulesian had married into the Fish family of Woods Hole. Their house was at 565 Woods Hole Road, now owned by the Woods Hole Research Center and currently occupied by the Penikese Island School. Continue reading

From the Archives – Train Stations and Ferry Terminals in Woods Hole

by Susan F. Witzell

The Old Colony Railroad, originating in Boston, was extended from Monument Beach in what is now Bourne to Woods Hole during the years 1870 to 1872. The train terminal was located out on the steamship wharf itself and contained in a long wooden Victorian building with a monitor structure at the peak to allow steam and gases to vent.

The original wooden shed railroad terminal appears in the center of the photo above. photo by Baldwin Coolidge.

The original wooden shed railroad terminal appears in the center of the photo above. Photo by Baldwin Coolidge.

In 1901 that wooden station was demolished by deliberate burning by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, which had absorbed the Old Colony in the 1890s. The fire, which lasted some days, resulted in creosote-laden smoke which spread on the prevailing winds and resulted in the destruction of rosarian Michael Walsh’s entire crop of rambler roses as well as the Fay gardens where he worked. He and Sarah Bryant Fay sued the railroad and settled out of court, winning $20,000 in damages.

Following this, the railroad constructed a brick station some hundreds of feet back from the wharves and docks of Great Harbor. Continue reading