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  • Writer's pictureDon Wilding

Return to the Montclair

The wreck of the Montclair. The schooner ran aground and was smashed to pieces during a northeaster on March 5, 1927. (Cape Cod National Seashore)

During the summer of 1962, Nathan Baggs of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, was glancing at the latest edition of National Geographic Magazine, when he came across a lengthy feature on Cape Cod. Flipping through the pages, the 66-year-old retired sea captain saw a photograph that took him back 41 years.

The photograph was of young children frolicking about on a sunny day across the sands of Nauset Beach in Orleans. One of the kids was jumping off the skeletal remains of the Montclair, a three-masted schooner than ran aground here during a northeaster on March 5, 1927.

Baggs knew the wreck all too well. On that late winter morning, he was one of only two survivors that were pulled from the stormy, icy surf as the vessel broke apart. Five other members of the crew, including the captain, perished.

Baggs vowed to return to the scene of the wreck someday, and six years later, did just that. On Sept. 10, 1968, Nathan Baggs once again set foot on Nauset Beach after nearly losing his life there over four decades earlier.

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