“A man may stand there and put all America behind him.” Henry David Thoreau
After seven days in Sandwich we moved further east in Cape Cod to Nickerson State Park in the town of Orleans. We only reserved two nights at this park since it was dry camping.
We had a lot to see in this area and a short time so we had no time to waste. Bill wanted to visit the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center in nearby Chatham. Here numerous exhibits and short films tells the story of Marconi’s role in the history of wireless communication.
Marconi’s original 1914 TransAtlantic Wireless Receiving Station where telegrams were sent from ship to shore was on display. Exhibits showed how the U.S. Navy used the station during WWII as well as displaying a highly classified Enigma cypher machine used by the German Navy for communications.
On Saturday we had a busy day exploring the Cape Cod National Seashore Park and the small towns and villages in the upper part of Cape Cod.
Cape Cod National Seashore has two Visitors Centers at each end of the park and we stopped at both of them. At the first center we toured the museum about the history of Cape Cod and saw a movie detailing how the it was formed. Cape Cod is a glacial deposit always undergoing natural changes as water and wind move sand along the shoreline, tearing away some places and building up others. The harsh North Atlantic winters contributes to these changes which can quickly take place. Native people began living on Cape Cod about 10,000 years ago. The Pilgrims arrived here in 1620 and briefly stayed before sailing across the bay to Plymouth.
We then stopped at the first Marconi Station Site where the first transatlantic wireless communication was sent from President Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VII of England. Marconi built his first towers here in 1901. As just described, the forces of nature has eroded much of this high cliff to the extent that the towers and station had to be removed. We visited the plaques and exhibits now placed a safe distance from the edge of the cliffs.
Next we drove to Provincetown at the end of Cape Cod. Here we found a Pilgrim Tower to commemorate the first landing of the Pilgrims. We then went to First Landing Park where the Pilgrims first set foot on American soil. (No, it wasn’t at Plymouth Rock). The area wasn’t to their liking so after a short time on the cape they sailed across the bay to Plymouth.
Afterwards we drove back towards home, stopping at three more historic places. At Corn Hill there is a plaque commem-orating the place where starving Pilgrims stumbled across a stockpile of corn the Indians had left for later use. The plaque says the Pilgrims said they didn’t know what would have become of them if they had not found the corn. I am sure hungry Indians were not happy to find the corn missing and we read that the Pilgrims later paid restitution to the Native Americans.
Next was Encounter Beach. Here a plaque commemorates the place where the Pilgrims and Native Americans first encountered each other. Bill and I both love historical places like this.
Our last stop of the day, very close to home was Nauset Beach. It is here at Nauset Beach in Orleans, Mass. that a German submarine fired on a tug, four unarmed barges and sank them during WWI.
Nauset Beach is the only place on American soil attacked during WWI.
At several of the historical sites we visited today we found geocaches. What fun!
I mentioned in an earlier blog about meeting Bob and Sue during our trip to Europe and the wonderful afternoon we spent at a cookout at their house. Our good luck continued since it turned out Sue’s mother and stepfather live 5 minutes from Nickerson State Park where we were staying. So Friday night we went to Earl and Bea’s house and had a delicious dinner and were able to spend more time with Bob and Sue. A great time was had by all! We could get use to this!
Next stop: Boston area. Can’t wait for more history coming up!!