Saturday, February 09, 2008
A Bit of History Revealed
Once I'd finished my time in Province town, I side- tripped to Newcomb Hollow Beach, as I made my way back upCape to work.
Readers of local news will know by now that a winter storm on January 28th of this year revealed the remains of a shipwreck here in Wellfleet, and I've been wanting to check it out.
The wreck is, naturally, not all that near the beach parking lot, but it was a lovely day for a walk on the beach.
(If you plan to visit the wreck sometimes before the sea or scavengers reclaim it, I suggest consulting a tide chart to coordinate your visit with low tide.)
Staff of the Cape Cod National Seashore and other have examined the remains, thought to have been a coastal schooner, or perhaps a schooner re-purposed late in its life as a coal barge. CCNS have posted signs asking folks to refrain from taking pieces of the ship, though having been declared "historically insignificant", the ship's remains will be left on the beach, to be taken back out to sea by some future storm.
I can see the wisdom in wanting it to remain untouched. That way, as long as it lasts (and it's the ocean's cold and salt which have kept it going this long), this glimpse into the past is available for anyone who wishes to see it. And trust me, they are: the parking lot looks as it does in the warmer months.
I only wanted photos: it's not a piece of the Berlin Wall or anything, and besides, I think the recent move highlighted the fact for me that I already carry around too many "pieces of history"!
I shudder at the idea of the remains of this wreck being used to create a wet bar counter in another Cape McMansion - talk about your progress perverting history. Just the same, "mooncussing" is a long tradition on these shores, and not everyone agrees.
Anyway...getting to the site of the wreck was a minor challenge, as the ocean which revealed the ship's remains is also doing the work of erosion against Newcomb Hollow's crumbling clay cliffs.
No matter what you believe, or what will happen to the remains of this "unim portant" vessel, it was fascinating to have a close-up look at the past, to a time (experts suggest it was constructed sometime in the late 1700s or early 1800s)when things were built to last.
I think it's good for our modern, mass-producing, cel-jabbering, over-populated society to be drawn down to the sea for a look at the past now and then. With the hypnotic rush and flow of the tide's whisper in one's ears, soothing the soul, here's a reminder that the human race has done remarkable things with limited means in the past.
Kinda gives you hope for the future, doesn't it?
While I enjoyed seeing the wreck's remains and soaking in some wonderful sun, the ocean- smoothed timbers and the creep ing surf behind me kept me mindful that the path back to the car at the base of the cliff would be covered before long.
After another look at the solid and long-lasting post-and-peg design, I headed back to the car and the rest of my not-very-exciting day, glad to have made the detour.