Happy Birthday Cape Cod Canal
You’ve seen the bumper stickers for the Cape Cod Tunnel, right? They always make me smile. I wonder how many tourists believed there was a tunnel? I know thousands of them wished there was a tunnel as they chocked on the exhaust coming from the slow to stopped traffic all around them. And if you have a smidgen of fear of heights or bridges, you would pine for a tunnel. The two bridges, the Bourne Bridge and the Sagamore Bridge, are high, 135 feet from the water. They also proudly display the year they were completed. It gives me pause, 1935.
A little history review: Miles Standish, in the Plymouth Colony, first proposed a man-made canal in 1623, to make trade with the Native American tribes and the Dutch merchants easier and safer. He was way before his time. Neither the man power or the technology to deal with the glacier rocks the Cape was formed over was available. Finally, in 1909, work began on the canal which was ready for its grand opening in 1914. It didn’t go well. The mariners despised the toll and the early bridges which were tough to navigate. They were kept in the down position and the ships had to deal with strong currents while they waited for the bridge to raised. Later, The US Army Corps of Engineers made massive improvement to the canals, stopped the tolls, and built the bridges. They continue to maintain the three bridges today.
This year the canal was 100 years old. There was a huge week-long celebration with the tall ships, music fest, ship tours, including the Charles W. Morgan, the last remaining American whale ship, a tug boat parade, train rides over the railroad bridge, and ending with fireworks on Buzzard’s Bay. It was the Cape Cod Canal Centennial Celebration and they did it up big! By not having to navigate the treacherous waters and shoals around Cape Cod, over the past hundred years, many lives and ships were saved. A cause for celebration indeed.
Kudos to all the people who worked so hard to make the celebration a success.