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  • Writer's pictureDon Wilding

Historian to explore Cape's legendary shipwrecks

There may not be too many folks who know more about Cape Cod shipwrecks than Bill Burke. However, even the longtime Cape Cod National Seashore historian manages to learn something new when he’s perusing over the tales of his trade.

“I was recently re-reading Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Cape Cod,’ and I’d forgotten about this, but it starts off with the Cohasset shipwreck and how it made an impression on him,” said Burke. “Even before he got to the Cape, he kind of got this taste of what was to come about shipwrecks. It’s a very well written description and pretty grim. It’s interesting on how that pops right up in the beginning.”

Burke will be giving the public a taste of the stories of Cape Cod shipwrecks, as well as the role of the U.S. Lifesaving Service and Coast Guard, in an illustrated talk on Thursday at the Eastham Historical Society’s 1869 Schoolhouse Museum.

He’ll highlight where the surviving Lifesaving and Coast Guard stations are today and how they can be viewed, and he’ll paint the picture of transportation and why there were so many wrecks, due to the amount of shipping traffic, lack of technology, and the arm of the Cape and the sandbars.

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