Interesting Trivia About Cape Cod

Cape Cod is some 18,000 years old with a history that includes a huge collection of people, places and events. Cape Cod is one of the forbearers of our nation's heritage.

Senators John F. Kennedy and Leverett Saltonstall introduced the legislation that led to the creation of Cape Cod National Seashore in 1959.

President John F. Kennedy signed the legislation into Public Law 87-126 in 1961. This authorized Cape Cod National Seashore.

There were many shipwrecks on the hidden sand bars off the coast between Chatham and Provincetown, so many which, those fifty miles of sea have been called an "ocean graveyard." Between Truro and Wellfleet, there have been more than 1,000 wrecks.

In the early days, when a storm struck the Cape, it was no surprise for townspeople to hear the alarm: "Ship ashore! All hands perishing!" The townspeople would go out to the beach to see if any could be rescued, but the surf was usually too high for them to attempt a rescue. When the storm was over, there was usually no one to rescue.

Sparrowhawk ran aground at Orleans in 1626 as the first recorded shipwreck. The people on board got to shore safely, and the ship was repaired, but before it could sail, the ship "Sparrowhawk" was sunk by another storm and was not seen for over two hundred years. The ribs of the ship are on display in Plymouth at Pilgrim Hall.

The cargo was often saved on these early ships even if the passengers and crew could not be saved. The townspeople would come out after a wreck with their carts and horses and haul away the wine, coffee, nutmeg, cotton, tobacco, or whatever the ship had been carrying. Theory was usually "finders were keepers."

There was an average of two wrecks every month during the winter in the early 1800s. The government created a system to help rescue sailors.

Today there is a demonstration of a breeches buoy drill given weekly during the summer months by national Seashore Rangers at Race Point in Provincetown.

The Old Harbor Life Saving Station is still standing and is currently being restored to its original condition, complete with lifesaving equipment.

Among the bits of trivia about Cape Cod is that the Province Lands area of the Cape Cod National Seashore in Provincetown is also known as the second-oldest "common lands" in the nation. The first is Boston Common. The Province Lands area was put aside in the 1600s by Plymouth Colony as a fisheries reserve.

Source: National Park Service US Department of the Interior Online

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© 2007 Connie Limon All Rights reserved

Written by: Connie Limon For more information about vacationing and living in the Cape Cod Bay area of Massachusetts visit: For a variety of FREE reprint articles as well as special article topics visit Camelot Articles at

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