I am very fortunate to have been raised on Cape Cod when I was. Although the west coast is, and always will be, my home, I recognize that my childhood in the 60's and 70's was safe and quaint and so quintessentially "New England". It was a great place to grow up.
I also had the good fortune to have grown up across from a cranberry bog that had the only railroad tracks servicing Cape Cod at the far end of the bog. I loved the sound of the train and I always would turn and look to see it, and count how many cars long it was. I loved the little red caboose at the end, it always seemed like such a happy little car. I loved the sound of the train whistle as it approached the crossings.
So it was a real treat to be taken to Edaville Railroad, in Carver, MA, which is off Cape about 30 miles, south/southwest of Plymouth.
Edaville opened in the late 1940's, by Ellis D. Atwood ("EDA"). He'd bought up some old trains and tracks from defunct railroads in Maine, and placed them around his cranberry bog plantation, to transport employees and equipment out to the bogs, and also to bring tourists around. Many people don't know how cranberries are grown, so the tour around the bogs is very interesting.
Edaville grew over the years, with more collections of trains, engines, railroad memorabilia, etc. I seem to recall there was a small railroad and cranberry-themed museum.
My first memory of going to Edaville was on an elementary school trip. I think it was 2nd grade, but might have been 1st. I remember because Sheila was the kid that I 'buddied' with for the trip, since all of us had to have a partner on these field trips, to help the teachers keep track of the kids. It was early fall, probably mid to late September because it was warm enough that all us kids and teachers had our lunch on the picnic tables outside, after we did the train tour around the bogs and went to the museum. It was so exciting to be getting out of class for the day, heading off Cape (over the Bridge!!) in a caravan of yellow Sandwich school buses, toting our sack lunches. The train windows were open, and it was a warm day, as it chugged its way around the working cranberry bogs, which were in the process of being harvested.
This picture, of all of the ones I found on line, reminds me the most of that field trip.
There was a very cool collection of old engines, cars, cabooses, etc.
Edaville was a lot of fun, no matter when you went, but it really came to life in December. After the bogs are harvested, they are flooded for the winter, to protect the vines from freezing and dying. The water and ice actually keeps them insulated. The flooded bogs make for dramatic and magical reflections.
The train made it's way around the bogs and there were lots of lit shapes and decorations that stood out so much in the pitch black night.
I know my parents took me again at some point after the class trip, to take the train through the bogs and see the lights. It was a tradition that most kids in our part of Massachusetts enjoyed, and some parents have kept up the tradition to this day.
But the last time I went, my parents took me, my best friend Terry and her twin sister Vikki to Edaville to see the lights. I would have to guess that it was probably Dec. of 1973. It was so much fun. Terry and I reunited on Facebook and I asked her if she remembered that night and I was pleased that she did. When I think back on that night I remember the cold, crisp December air, laughing, hot chocolate, the crowd, escaping into the museum to warm up, buying candy and the magnificent lights and trains.
I never got the chance to go back after that. Like everything else, I took it for granted. Edaville was there, it was always gonna be there, I can go next year. And then the next year I'd say, I'll go next year. But I never did. In the winter of 1988, Jef and I were planning to take his daughter, then 7, to Edaville. Unfortunately she had managed to get in trouble w/ her mom & stepdad and was grounded the night we were gonna go. I knew it had to be pretty serious b/c Jef's ex-wife, Ginnie, liked me and always allowed Alicia to hang out at my house on the Cape, w/ Jef too, even overnight. Taking away the Edaville trip was the only punishment they could think of to discipline Alicia.
Edaville changed hands over the years, closed in 1991, but was reopened in 1999. Sheila told me today that it's for sale and if no one buys it, it will close indefinitely in early January. She took her young son & grandson there last night and is so sad to think it was going to close forever. I am too. I wish I had taken the time to go just one last time. Now it's too late.