Greetings and salutations from the sand, sun and surf of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and the sunny, breezy, perfect island of Nantucket! Great to be with you on this Monday morning–the 13th day of July, 2015–another stunning one out on the Hyannis/Hyannis Port Waterfront(s). So why not book your flight now and avoid the rush? Take the whole month of August off and come on down and visit US! We will, as always, leave that LIGHT on for “ya”!
This is the third installment of ‘better know a district’, I mean, better know a Cape town or Island. Today is the first of two, Nantucket Island, situated 22 miles off of Crosby’s Yacht Club in Osterville here on the Mainland. Created 11,500 years ago in the final throws of the “Last Great Ice Age”, by retreating glaciers, Nantucket benefited from their thawing, hence the island’s terrific water supply, drawn from deep aquifers sitting below the island as ground water filters down through the sand and clay. That clay preventing sea water from invading the “lens”. Another benefit naturally is the fact that the island is near the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf Stream; therefore in winters it is warmer. That water also acts as a natural air conditioner, for the “little old gray lady of the sea” (named that because of the frequent fogs and fact that most homes boast that white and gray classic clapboard look), is always at least 10 degrees cooler in the summer time than Boston or even mainland Cape Cod.
In the summer season, i.e NOW, the population swells from 10,000 souls in the lonely winter, to over 60,000, and that is not counting people who just go over on the Steamship Authority’s fast ferry “Iyanough” for the day or week end, pushing the edges with well over 100,000 on a hot July 4th day.
The island was ’settled’ in 1659, but discovered by Norsemen in the 11th Century. When the English arrived, there were over 3000 Wampanoag Indians on what those indigenous peoples called “Nantucket”, or ‘far away land’. Thomas Mayhew ’sold’ the rights to this far away land to nine men for the tidy sum of thirty pounds and two beaver hats. Indeed, T. Coffin, Macy, Hussey, Swayne, Bernard, P. Coffin, Greenleaf, another Swayne and Pike all got a pretty good deal they would probably concur.
R.H. Macy is from Nantucket–the founder of Macy’s department store–and is also quite famous for it’s whaling activities over the years, especially during it’s peak in the mid-1700’s to the late 1830’s. The island boasting being at the ‘time’ the “whaling capital of the world”. But in 1846, disaster stuck the island, with “the Great Fire” burning the town to the ground, leaving hundreds homeless and impoverished. Whale oil, abundant wood on docks and the many warehouses were to blame for the blaze (taking much of the original architecture with it, with only 800 buildings now in existence on the island dating from the onset of the Civil War in 1861 forward. The first public building to be rebuilt was the Antheneum (library), in 1847.
Tourism can be dated back to 1800 but picked up in 1881 with the building of the Nantucket railroad, those cars derailing at the onset of World War I (not the reason), but one can still enjoy a burger and brew at one of Nantucket’s most iconic restaurants, “the Club Car” (as seen on the TV show “Wings”, an early 1990’s U.S. sitcom based on Nantucket Airport), literally being one of the old rail cars itself.
In 2000–the dawn of the new millennium–that very first sunrise in the United States was seen on Nantucket island. I assume by someone now very famous indeed, perhaps the reincarnation of author Herman Melville, who stepped onto this far away land in 1840 and was inspired by some tall tales told by Owens and Nickerson. A first mate of a whaling boat and his pal speaking of a great ‘White Whale’ ramming their vessel. Creating of course the famous novel “Moby Dick”.
There exists three lighthouses on this most sacred and fabled island–Great Point Light in “Sconset”, Brandt Point in the town of Nantucket and Sankaty Lighthouse mid-island. These lighthouses were invaluable for sailors to make their way through those dark and foggy nights, bringing them safely back to the bosom of Nantucket’s inner harbor and their eagerly awaiting family members… With 700 plus ship wrecks counted, one can come to appreciate just how important that light was to seafarers from the days of ‘yore.
Have a great week ahead folks!
PRESERVE THE WILDERNESS! Peace~M