History of the Shining Sea Bikeway

The Shining Sea Bikeway extends 10.7 miles, from County Road in North Falmouth to the Steamship Authority's Ferry terminal in Woods Hole, a historic seaside fishing village and the site of several major research institutions.

The Bikeway was officially dedicated in 1975 as a community project, and follows prehistoric trails of the Wampanoag Indians. The Wampanoags, a tribe of the Algonquin nation, were non-aggressive people and notable seafarers, who regarded themselves as a part of the whole of Nature. They sustained themselves on the natural resources they found here; a plentiful diet of shellfish, fish, game, wildfowl, berries, roots and nuts. In 1620, Wampanoag Tribal Chief Massasoit greeted Pilgrims, the first substantial wave of European immigrants.

Timeline of the Shining Sea Bikeway:

1849
The first summer home was built in Falmouth and called Mostly Hall. This began the wave of summer residents and tourism that has become a mainstay of Falmouth

1859
Katharine Lee Bates was born in Falmouth. The Shining Sea Bikeway is named in her honor and in tribute to her poem "America the Beautiful. "

1872
Railroad tracks were laid from Monument Village to Falmouth and Woods Hole. The Falmouth to Woods Hole route followed an ancient Indian trail.

1957
The railroad discontinued use of its Falmouth to Woods Hole line.
1964
Woods Hole resident Joan Kanwisher suggested that the Town of Falmouth purchase the abandoned railroad land.

1968
Railroad company formally petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission for permission to abandon the right-of-way from Woods Hole to Locust St.

1969
A special town meeting voted unanimously to take the right-of-way by eminent domain for conservation purposes; however, railroad company sold the land from Woods Hole to Locust St. to a private individual

1973
After a protracted legal process, the Town of Falmouth obtained title to the abandoned railroad right-of-way

1974
The Town voted $4000 funding for the bike path. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Marine Biology Laboratory each added $2000, thus matching the Town’s appropriation. The funds were used to clear the rail bed.

1975
Town Meeting established the Bikeways Committee and approved blacktopping the bike path. Massachusetts Bicentennial Commission approved $25,000 for this work.

1975
Bike path completed from ferry terminal to Locust St

1976
The Shining Sea Bikeway was created and opened through the joint efforts of town officials and citizens and dedicated as part of Falmouth's Bicentennial celebrations.

1977
The Town of Falmouth completed the purchase of the railroad line from Falmouth to Woods Hole for $329,000.

1998
The Shining Sea Bikeway was extended from Locust Street to Skating Lane. The Bikeway now was established as an intermodal transportation link, interconnecting automobile, bus, ferry and bicycle.