Porthmadog, known locally as Port, is a small coastal town located in Gwynedd, in north-west Wales, traditionally part of Caernarfonshire. It has a population of 4,187 (2001 census).
Porthmadog came into existence after William Madocks built a long seawall, called the Cob, to reclaim a large amount of land from the sea for agricultural use. The town was called Portmadoc until 1974, when it was renamed to the equivalent Welsh spelling and pronunciation. Though its name likely derives from Madocks, many locals claim the town is really called after Ynys Madoc (Madoc Island) in the Glaslyn Estuary and its famous resident Madog ap Owain Gwynedd, a prince who, according to legend, travelled to the Americas 300 years before Columbus.
Located on the Irish Sea coast, Porthmadog has a small harbour where ships used to load with slate carried on the many local narrow gauge railways that terminated there. These included the Croesor Tramway, Ffestiniog Railway, Gorseddau Tramway, and Welsh Highland Railway. In the second half of the 19th century Porthmadog was a flourishing port. A number of shipbuilders were active here at this time, and were particularly well-known for the three-masted schooners known as the "Western Ocean Yachts". Porthmadog's role as a commercial port was effectively ended by the First World War.
Today, Porthmadog has termini for the Ffestiniog Railway at the south of the town, and for the Welsh Highland Railway (Porthmadog), on the old main line sidings. In 2009 the rebuilt Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon and Rhyd Ddu will be reopened via Beddgelert to Porthmadog and will start operating services to the Ffestiniog Railway's Porthmadog Harbour railway station with through trains running from Caernarfon to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Porthmadog also has a station on the Standard Gauge Cambrian Coast Line.
Near Porthmadog is Portmeirion, where the 1960s television series The Prisoner was filmed.
Porthmadog hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1987.
For more information see: http://www.porthmadog.com/