Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Exploring #Falmouth Cape Cod #CapeCod #Travel

I've lived on beautiful Cape Cod for nearly 20 years now, and I'm still discovering the rich history, diverse geography, and breathtaking beauty of the 15 towns of the Cape, as well as the nearby islands.  I've done a few posts on My Favorite Spots on Cape Cod, Haunted History of Barnstable, Visiting Cuttyhunk Island, and A Whirlwind Tour of Cape Cod, and while a few Falmouth locations are mentioned (Coonamessett Farm, the Shining Sea Bike Trail, and the Woods Hole Aquarium), I've never done a post specifically on Falmouth, a neighboring town I'm in at least once a week, if not more.  And while it's easy to miss discovering the amazing sites in our own figurative backyards, due to...well, life...I got a chance to explore Falmouth's history with my son as I drove him around to take pictures for a high school geography project.  I've driven by many of these places for years without knowing much about them, and I'm excited about all I learned on our trip!  So I'm sharing some of the town's fascinating history below.

A tip of Washburn Island in the background - we had quite
an experience camping there one night - very rustic!
We stopped first at the Waquoit Bay Natural Estuarine Research Reserve, which is both a Massachusetts State park and a center for education and research.  From there, we took pictures across Waquoit Bay of Washburn Island, an important part of the Reserve only accessible by private boat.  Washburn Island is one of the few large undeveloped coastal areas on the Cape, although it does feature a few rustic campsites which nature lovers may reserve in advance.  During WWII, the island served as an Army camp, and remnants of the abandoned base can still be found.  In addition, Native American artifacts dating between 450-1000 years ago have been found on the island as well.  

An example of a Wampanoag wetu
at the Waquoit Bay Reserve

Bay View Cemetery along Rt. 28
Following one of the trails along the water leads over to the old Bay View Cemetery, which I, as a writer of ghost stories, obviously found fascinating.  Many of the graves dated back to the 1800s.

From there, we got back in the car and drove to downtown Falmouth to the historic Village Green off Main Street (Rt. 28). This area has served as the town center since 1756, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  A few pictures from our walk around the Green are below; of particular note is the home of Katharine Lee Bates, the author of "America the Beautiful".

The home of Katharine Lee Bates, built in 1820.
Katharine was born in the house is 1859.

First Congregational Church, circa 1796;
contains a bell manufactured by Paul Revere.

Oldest home on the Falmouth Village Green - 1790
Dr. Francis Wick's house - Federal style

From Falmouth's historic district, it's a short drive down to Woods Hole, located in the southwest corner of the Cape.  There is a great deal to see here in terms of history and geography, including many famous marine science organizations, a Coast Guard station, and the Nobska light house, pictured below.  I've actually been up to the top, as we were at a Coast Guard dinner at the house years ago.

Nobska Lighthouse, 1828.  The house is used by the
commander of US Coast Guard Group Woods Hole,
now renamed CG Sector Southeastern New England.

While we couldn't visit every point of interest in Falmouth in the time we had, we did hit a few more...Highfield Hall and Gardens, Beebe Woods, cranberry bogs, Old Silver Beach - there's so much to see in the Cape's second-largest town.  And, as a post-script, my son received an A on the Falmouth project - 100% - and we both learned a lot along the way.

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