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Journey with Wilding into Outer Cape history this summer


Don Wilding, a co-founder of the nonprofit Henry Beston Society and Scribe of Cape Cod Lore, will present 14 Cape Cod history lecture programs this summer on the Outer Cape.

Wilding, author of the book, “Henry Beston’s Cape Cod: How ‘The Outermost House’ Inspired a National Seashore,” and contributing Cape Cod history columnist for Cape newspapers, brings the “Outermost House” program to the Eastham Historical Society’s 1869 Schoolhouse Museum (25 Schoolhouse Rd., Eastham, across from the Cape Cod National Seashore's Salt Pond Visitors Center) every Thursday night at 7 p.m. from July 7 through Sept. 1.

“Henry Beston’s Cape Cod” explores Beston’s World War I experiences, his time on Cape Cod, and how his book, “The Outermost House,” was cited by the National Park Service as a reason for the Outer Cape to be preserved.

The program features rough cut footage from the Beston Society’s documentary film, now in production, about Beston and “The Outermost House.”

“Henry Beston’s Cape Cod” is part of the “Outermost House at the Schoolhouse” exhibit of Outermost House artifacts at the Schoolhouse Museum. The exhibit is open to the public during the museum’s regular hours (Tuesday through Saturday). Check out the feature on the exhibit on Page 97 of the 2016 Cape Cod Summer Guide.

Other programs include:

  • Shipwrecks of Cape Cod — Orleans Historical Society’s Meeting House Museum, Main Street & River Road, Orleans; Wednesday, July 6, at 7 p.m.: A look at some of the great shipwrecks and rescues on the Outer Beach of Cape Cod, ranging from the earliest days of the U.S. Lifesaving Service (1872) to the early years of the U.S. Coast Guard in the first half of the 20th century. Don will look at the wrecks of the Castagna, the Francis, the Montclair, the Jason, the Portland, and many more;

  • Neptune Rises on the Dunes: The Blizzard of ’78 on the Outer Cape — Eastham Historical Society’s 1869 Schoolhouse Museum, 25 Schoolhouse Road, Eastham; Wednesday, July 13, and Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m.: On February 6-7, 1978, New England was struck by one of the greatest weather events in history, when the now-legendary “Blizzard of ’78” buried Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island with four feet of snow and 15-foot drifts. Here on Cape Cod, it wasn’t a “snow event” but a “tidal event.” Hurricane force winds, combined with the highest new moon tides the area has even seen, carved out an entirely new landscape on the Outer Beach. Learn how high tides turned the Outer Cape into an island for a short time as the eye of the storm passed directly over the area.

  • Storm Warriors of Cape Cod: The Rescue Mission for the Wreck of the Castagna — Eastham Historical Society’s 1869 Schoolhouse Museum, 25 Schoolhouse Road, Eastham; Wednesday, July 27, and Wednesday, Aug. 10, at 7 p.m.: On February, 17, 1914, the Nauset and Cahoon Hollow Lifesaving Stations embarked on one of the U.S. Lifesaving Service’s greatest rescue missions after the Italian bark Castagna ran aground on Cape Cod’s outer bar in South Wellfleet. Facing driving snow, gale force winds, and temperatures below zero, five Castagna crew members either froze to death in the icy masts or were swept overboard. Learn all about how the local surf men’s efforts to overcome overwhelming odds, saving the rest of the crew from an icy fate.

Here’s what they’re saying about Don:

“I extend to you our gratitude for your expertise in subject and presentation. Having quality speakers and topics are the keys to any lasting program. You have added to that tradition.” — Robert McCormack, Cape Cod National Seashore, 2011 “Thank you so much for taking the time to share your deep knowledge of “The Outermost House” with our (coastal ecology) class. Our walk with you added another layer of understanding to the students’ reading of Beston, and underscored the dynamic nature of life on the Great Beach.” - Brett Amy Thelen, Franklin Pierce University, Rindge, N.H., 2014 “If you get the chance to meet Don, or read his book, or see his presentation, I highly recommend you do.” — Peter Doherty, English Department, Tahanto Regional High School, Boylston, Mass., 2014 “Don Wilding … is not only a fine writer, but also knows a lot about Cape Cod history as founder of the Henry Beston Society.” — Provincetown Magazine, 2014 “(Don Wilding’s) heart and writing pad are firmly entrenched in the dunes of the Outer Cape.” — The Cape Cod Voice, 2001

Check back for updates to Don's schedule by following him on Facebook and Twitter.

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