The need for an efficient transport system for the vast amounts of mineral ore and coal passing between the local mines and Portreath Harbour resulted in the building of the Portreath to Poldice tramway, in 1809. It was a horse-drawn railway and the first in Cornwall. Towering above the village is also the great incline of the Portreath branch of the Hayle Railway, erected in 1838. This too was a mineral line linking the mines of Camborne and Illogan with the harbour. A stationary steam engine once moved trucks up and down its steep face whilst its network of rails fanned out along the quaysides.
The tramroad was opened in 1812 and connected the copper mines around Gwennap with the harbour at Portreath. Copper ore was then shipped to the South Wales Coalfields for smelting. The ships were then 'back-loaded' with timber and coal for the mines. Prior to the railway it took 1000 mules a day to carry the ore.