“Does this train stop at Provincetown?” asked the passenger on the Old Colony Railroad. “Well, lady,” the conductor answered, “if it doesn’t, there’s going to be an awful splash!” That was because the tracks ended about 1,200 feet into the harbor, on Railroad Wharf, built in 1873. (Passengers were never really in danger; this was a freight spur for the fishing fleet.) Railroad Wharf was taken over by the town in 1928 and called Town Wharf. Because MacMillan is also called Town Wharf by old-timers, some accounts describe it as if it were a rebuilt Railroad Wharf. But make no mistake: Railroad Wharf was razed in 1956, as MacMillan was being constructed alongside it.
More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.