Cape Cod & Plymouth, Massachusetts – Late Summer 2016 Road Trip – Day 5

We drove to Cape Cod National Seashore, home of the first transatlantic telegraph line.  With this being a National Park, our annual pass that we purchased almost a year ago at Pictured Rocks, Michigan was still good – the best $80 we spent all year.

Once in the park we went to a cliff overlooking the ocean and beach where you could see obvious evidence of erosion wearing away the cliff. It occurs so much here that the Salt Pond Lighthouse was moved 600 yards inland, with the original lighthouse site now in the Atlantic Ocean.  The beach now has natural grasses and rose hips shrubs on the cliff trying to deter further erosion. This area is a glacial deposit and the land diminishes quickly, so much so, that it is only a mile wide where the Marconi Wireless Station is located.

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Inventor Guglielmo Marconi erected large antennae of four 210-foot wooden towers on this site, and established a transmitting station powered by kerosene engines that produced the 25,000 volts of electricity needed to send signals to a similar station in Poldhu, Cornwall, United Kingdom, after building ones earlier in St Johns, Newfoundland. This was also the location of the first trans Atlantic undersea cable.

Later we moved on to Chatham, where there is a Marconi RCA Center. Here is the original building where messages from ships were interpreted by the US Navy in WWI and WWII, now a museum housing exhibits of machines related to Morse code sent by radio waves from ships at sea then transmitted over telegraph wires on land were keyed into a machine here that printed a ribbon of coded dots and dashes that were then decoded into an alphabetic message.

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The US Navy worked in the attic of this building decoding messages of German u-boats very close to stateside, where the Naval ships would then use this information to sink German submarines.

Also located in the museum is a Turing machine. Jane, a volunteer of the museum, referred to”The Imitation Game a movie about a decoding machine created by three Poles and Alan Turing, a Brit, who completed the decoding machine that decoded thousands of German messages to help win the war.

One of Cape Cod station’s most notable roles occurred with the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912 when operators at the station were able to alert the RMS Carpathia so that rescue of some of the Titanic‘s passengers could be saved.

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After we left Cape Cod we drove into Plymouth to see the rock where the pilgrims of the Mayflower landed.  The rock was not noted as significant until 120 years later when a wharf was to be built there and the rock should be moved.  It was at that time that a preservation group established the historical importance of Plymouth Rock, creating America’s first tourist trap.  Plymouth Rock with the date of 1620 etched into the face of it sat at the center of a pit below a covered granite shelter for spectators to peer over the rail and see the rock.  A replica of the Mayflower II is docked nearby Plymouth Rock but we chose not to board.

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We had lunch at a small stand called Pebbles where we had lobster roll and a shrimp platter, both were excellent.  Plymouth erected artistic statues of lobsters around town similar to Cleveland’s guitars that stand throughout the city. A lobster with a broken claw and crutches and another lobster dressed in a tuxedo stood not far from Plymouth Rock.

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We drove to the edge of town to see the National Monument to the Forefathers, formerly called the Pilgrim Monument. The 81-foot solid granite monument was completed in 1889. It is thought to be the world’s largest solid granite monument. The monument faces northeast to Plymouth Harbor and roughly, towards Plymouth, England.  On the main pedestal stands the figure of “Faith” with her right hand pointing toward heaven and her left hand clutching the Bible. Upon the four buttresses beneath the figure of “Faith” are four seated figures of the principles upon which the Pilgrims founded their Commonwealth; Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty.

Each was carved from a solid block of granite, posed in the sitting position upon chairs.  On the face of the buttresses, beneath these figures are reliefs in marble, representing scenes from Pilgrim history, a quote of William Bradford from the Mayflower, as well as the names of the pilgrims that reached the new land.  It was had to believe that we were the only visitors at this site looking at this magnificent monument.

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It was a cloudy but warm day when we arrived in Boston, and after quickly checking into our favorite lodging, The Longwood Inn, we headed downtown to see our daughter, meeting her near her workplace. From there we all took the Red Line train to Harvard Square where we stopped for a cocktail and appetizer at a small tavern called Beat Brasserie. Afterward we walked to another restaurant, Alden and Harlow for dinner. This restaurant served everything family style but the portions were the size of tapas. We tried lamb, rabbit, steak, potatoes, broccoli and pickled green beans.  The food was good and the place was packed.

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We all took the green line train back to Brookline where we crashed for the night.