Don Wilding is the author of three books on Cape Cod history, a Cape tour guide and a regular speaker on Cape Cod lore in Massachusetts and across New England. He was an award-winning newspaper editor, writer, and designer in Massachusetts for 36 years, including a recent stint as a contributing history columnist and photographer for Cape newspapers.
Coming Spring 2023:
Cape Cod and the Great Gale of 1898
Don's fourth book, “Cape Cod and the Great Gale of 1898,” is due to be published by The History Press in the Spring of 2023.
Many know this killer storm, which resulted in over 450 deaths at sea, as “The Portland Gale.”
Nearly 200 people perished aboard the steamer Portland over that fateful Thanksgiving weekend, and dozens of bodies washed ashore on Cape Cod’s outer beach. Still more ships wrecked in harbors and on shorelines around the peninsula. Cape Cod, which experienced several years worth of maritime devastation in just one weekend, would never be the same.
Shipwrecks of Cape Cod:
Stories of Tragedy and Triumph
From the wreck of the Sparrow-Hawk in 1626 to the grounding of the Eldia in 1984, Cape Cod’s outer beach—often referred to as the “Graveyard of Ships”—saw the demise of more than three thousand vessels along forty miles of shifting shoals. The October Gale of 1841 claimed the lives of fifty-seven sailors from Truro, a devastating toll for a small seaside community. Survivors from the 1896 wreck of the Monte Tabor in Provincetown were arrested for a suspected mutiny. Aboard the Castagna, which stranded off Wellfleet in 1914, several sailors froze to death in the masts, while the crew’s cat survived. Local author Don Wilding revisits these and many other maritime disasters, along with the heroic, and sometimes tragic, rescue efforts of the U.S. Life-Saving Service and Coast Guard.
A Brief History of Eastham:
On the Outer Beach of Cape Cod
First known as Nauset, Eastham was once home to the Nauset tribe for thousands of years before exploration by Champlain and the Pilgrims, and it is now known as the “Gateway to the Cape Cod National Seashore.” Whether it’s the U.S. Life-Saving Service and its shipwreck rescues, Cape Cod’s oldest windmill or tales of sea captains and rumrunners, Eastham is truly rich in history and tradition. Author Don Wilding wanders back in time through the Outer Cape’s back roads, sand dunes and solitary beaches to uncover Eastham’s fascinating past.
Henry Beston's Cape Cod
Since 1928, Henry Beston's The Outermost House has been THE definitive book about Cape Cod. Don Wilding tells the story behind Beston's nature classic.
How The Outermost House inspired legislators in Washington to establish the Cape Cod National Seashore;
How Henry Beston's trail to Cape Cod began at the Battle of Verdun in France during World War I;
The influence that Henry Beston and The Outermost House had on Rachel Carson, other nature writers, and the American environmental movement;
The Cape Cod stories that you won't find in The Outermost House;
The winter hurricane that claimed Beston's house in 1978.