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  • Writer's pictureDon Wilding

Take a Cape history journey with Don

Over the last 16 years, I’ve done a lot of talking, writing, and lecturing about the history of Outer Cape Cod. If you’re interested in learning even more on this subject, then perhaps you might want to check out my course, Cape Cod History: Journey to the Outer Beach, for Nauset Community Education at the Nauset Middle School in Orleans, during January and February.

Classes begin on Monday, Jan. 22, with four more 90-minute sessions on Jan. 29, Feb. 5, Feb. 12, and Feb. 26, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Call 508-255-4300 to register. There’s a $60 fee for the course.

Here’s a brief course synopsis. Hope to see in Orleans next month!

Shipwrecks, The Lifesaving Service, and the Coast Guard Between the time of the earliest European settlers’ arrival and the opening of the Cape Cod Canal, the Cape’s outer bar became known as the “Graveyard of Ships,” claiming over 4,000 vessels on its dangerous shoals. Coming to their rescue and saving thousands of lives were the U.S. Lifesaving Service and, later the Coast Guard, whose stations dotted the outer beach. We’ll even look back at some Cape Cod rum runner stories.

Great Cape storms Cape Cod’s outer bar has been battered by its share of historic storms over the years. During this session, we’ll look back at some of the Outer Cape’s memorable weather events, including the Blizzard of 1978, Hurricane Bob, and the “Perfect Storm.”

Lighthouses of the Outer Cape Highland Light in Truro was the first U.S. lighthouse, commissioned in 1797 by President George Washington. Cape Cod is known for its historic beacons, including Highland, Nauset, Chatham, and the smaller lights of Cape Cod Bay.

Dune Shacks and “The Outermost House” Henry Beston’s year in outer nature on the beach in Eastham was based on his experience in the “Fo’castle,” a small cottage that was the base for “The Outermost House,” a Cape Cod literary classic and an inspiration for the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Many other “beach camps” and “dune shacks” followed on the Outer Cape, including those in Provincetown and Chatham.

Landmarks of the Outer Cape Besides the lighthouses, Coast Guard stations, and shacks, the Outer Cape has many other important landmarks. There’s Provincetown’s Pilgrim Monument and Eastham’s Windmill, as well as some of the lost sites such as Camp Wellfleet, Billingsgate Island, and more.

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