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Found 10 blog entries tagged as historical.


fish weirA popular form of fishing on Cape Cod for centuries, weirs are still in operation today, much as they were generations ago by Native Americans, used to harvest migrating fish. While the early weirs were constructed out of thin wooden sticks that made them susceptible to high winds and a strong tide, the weirs of today are more commonly “fish traps”, with netting strung from poles that are pounded in the sand.

Weirs trap the fish trying to swim back out into deeper water. With fishermen from two boats hard at work, the crews scoop out the fish for sale at market. The use of weirs jumped in popularity during the early to mid 1800s but they are much more limited today. The fish population has declined, blamed on an abundance of seals and on more advanced

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eastham target shipIt never actually served in battle off Cape Cod, yet Eastham’s famed “target ship” is about to get a long-overdue honor for the role it played in military history. The board of selectmen in Eastham recently voted to commemorate the SS Longstreet with a memorial plaque at First Encounter Beach. It’s hoped the plaque will be finished in time for a dedication in February, marking the ship’s 75th year.

Countless dummy bombs and missiles hit the SS Longstreet during a more than quarter century span from the mid 1940s to early 1970s, yet the ship never fired back while stationed off Cape Cod. That’s because the Longstreet wasn’t actually at battle, but rather used as target practice by those at Otis Air Force Base.

Named after Confederate General James

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france flag

While it may be thousands of miles from Cape Cod to France, Orleans celebrates a noted connection to the European country, from its name to its annual celebrations. While the town was named by area resident Isaac Snow he gained his inspiration from a French duke named Louis Philippe Joseph d’Orleans, respected for being a “friend of the common man”, breaking with tradition as the rest of the Cape used English locations when naming the remaining towns in the area.

It’s hardly the only connection between Orleans and France, though, as the town also gained acclaim for being the site of the end of the telegraph cable between France and the United Station, with the station on the American end later becoming known as the French Cable Museum. Originally

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captains row west harwich ma

Efforts are underway to help preserve and restore historic Captains’ Row in West Harwich, nurturing the area’s past while also offering new ideas on how to propel the area into the future. Stretching six-tenths of a mile along Route 28, or Main Street, between the Herring River and Dennis, the area includes two-dozen properties that qualify for the National Register of Historic Places. With that in mind, area leaders are trying to come up with a consensus to work together.

Several months ago proponents came up with a design competition, asking for help from the deans of some of the nation’s top architectural schools such as Notre Dame, Harvard and Roger Williams. The idea was for the schools to use their planning and historic preservation skills to

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whydah museum provincetown

While a fantastic place to live and vacation, for hundreds of years Cape Cod has also held the distinction of serving as a final resting place for thousands of ships.  In fact, between Provincetown and Chatham alone the ocean graveyard has laid claim to more than 1,000 shipwrecks.

The trend dates back to the 1600s, with the first recorded shipwreck in the region.  That’s when the Sparrowhawk sunk near Orleans.  The ship stayed underwater for 200 years, and is now partially on display at Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth.  It’s still possible, though, to see the wreckage during low tide of another shipwreck, the Frances, which sunk in 1872 off North Truro.

In fact, during the early 1800s, shipwrecks were commonplace along the coast of Cape Cod, with an average of

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While no doubt Cape Cod has a rich maritime history that it proudly boasts of, not all of its history has been positive.  One of the worst shipwrecks due to bad weather in the region occurred well more than 100 years ago.  November 1898 made history, with tales retold throughout the generations.

Known by the name Portland Gale, the massive storm took the lives of hundreds of people up and down the New England coast.   Named to pay tribute to the legacy of the S.S. Portland, the steamship was headed from Boston to Portland, Maine when the ship succumbed to hurricane-force winds, forcing wreckage to eventually come ashore and sink to the sea floor.

The strength of the massive storm was unparalleled, beginning on the evening of November 26, then gaining

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swift-dailey houseRight along Route 6 in Eastham sits a unique piece of history for the Cape Cod region.  While this 1741 built home may look a lot like other homes in the area, the Swift-Daley House is an excellent place to revisit history.  Now a museum, the house has stood for 274 years, currently operated by the Eastham Historical Society.

One step inside and its easy to see history come alive within the home.  With prized Nova Scotia, pumpkin pine floors, the lumber was not only expensive in the 1700s, but also hard to come by.  As well, the home includes a number of design elements unique to the period of time in which it was built.  One of these is a borning room on the home’s south side.  This room would commonly have been used for childbirth, as well as to care for

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Salt became a great necessity for early New England life.  It was needed to help support the area’s fishing industry by preserving fish.  At one time in history much of that needed salt had to be imported.  However, that all came to a virtual halt when the British government began demanding a tax on the salt.  Imports of salt shut down during the Revolutionary War.  To help fill the need of fishermen, the Cape Cod region was forced to rise to the occasion.

That’s where Captain John Sears came into play.  The East Dennis captain came up with the design for an efficient salt works.  The idea was to evaporate seawater to make salt.  During the first season, the shallow wooden vat only made about eight bushels of salt.  By 1778 he found a way to pull up

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eastham windmill

Take a step back into history when you plan a visit to Cape Cod’s oldest windmill.  The Eastham Windmill was first constructed in 1680 in Plymouth.  It was then moved three times, first in 1770 to Truro via a log raft floated across Massachusetts Bay, again in 1793 when it was moved by ox-cart to Eastham not far from Salt Pond, and finally in 1808 to its current location on the Village Green.  You’ll find the Eastham Windmill located not far from the Eastham Public Library and just across from Eastham Town Hall.

More generally, the Eastham Windmill is located along Route 6 in Eastham.  This particular area is important to the region’s history because it shares the same site as Setucket Mill, which was likely constructed in the early 1700s.  In

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chatham windmill

From historic sites to spiritual landscapes and arts and crafts, there is plenty to do and explore in Chatham’s fantastic Chase Park.  From its special events to its picnic tables and convenient downtown Chatham location, the park is a great place for the entire family to experience Cape Cod history and cultural attractions.

We begin our tour with the infamous Chatham Windmill.  Originally built in the late 1700s, the windmill operated for a century but now stands predominantly within the park for all to see.  With three floors, the top floors used for grinding wheat and corn, plus a corncob grinder on the first floor, the Chatham Windmill has been expertly preserved and is now fully functional again.  

The mill is on both the State Register of Historic

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