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Guidebook Cape Cod ~ Truro
Head of the Meadow Trail, High Head Road, of Route 6A in North Truro.
This two-mile trail is an idyllic venue for cycling between the dunes
and the salt marshes from the beach parking lot to High Head Road. It is
also a great spot for bird lovers.
Cranberry Bog Trail, starts at Little America Youth Hostel parking lot.
The trail brings hikers past a number of previously cultivated cranberry
bogs which are in the process of reverting back to their natural state.
Pilgrim Spring Trail and Small Swamp Trail, both commence at the Cape
Cod National Seashore parking lot east of Pilgrim Lake. Each of these
¾-mile trails overlooks Salt Meadow, a freshwater marsh whose denizens
include osprey and hawks—bring binoculars.
Pilgrim Heights, High Head Road. There is an interpretive shelter
referencing the spring discovered by the Pilgrims (Pilgrim Spring),
Pilgrim Land Sand Dunes, walking and hiking trails and picnic spots.
Bell Church, Town Hall Road. This First Congregational Church of Truro
edifice, circa 1827, has a Paul Revere-cast bell, Sandwich Glass windows
and miniature whale-shaped window latches.
Cape Cod Light (aka Highland Light), Coast Guard Road. This is the
oldest of the four active Cape Cod lighthouses and the first one seen by
mariners approaching Boston is the most powerful lighthouse—lit by two
1,000 watt bulbs reflected by a huge Fresnel lens—on the New England
coast. In addition to the lights, the lighthouse also houses a radio
beacon which helps ships judge their positions. A plaque at the base of
the lighthouse reads: “Every six minutes, a one-minute signal is
broadcast—the letters H and I are repeated 23 times in Morse Code,
followed by a steady tone (during the silent intervals, the ships
broadcast their signals.” It was built in 1857, replacing the original
light (built in 1798 and lit by 24 whale oil lamps) Henry Thoreau once
boarded here for a short time during his travels. Threatened by erosion,
the lighthouse was moved back 450 feet from the cliff edge to safety in
1997, paid for by funds raised by the local citizenry. The Light
continues to flash its beacon above the roiling and treacherous Peaked
Hill Bars, which can be viewed from the spot. It was here that infamous
pirate captain Sam Bellamy’s ship, Whydah, sank in a storm three
centuries ago with its cargo of riches.
Truro Historical Museum, Lighthouse Road (off South Highland Road),
North Truro. This restored summer hotel/inn was built at the turn of the
century and presently houses maritime and agricultural exhibits—17th
century firearms, early fishing and whaling gear, mementos of
shipwrecks, a pirate’s chest, ship models, scrimshaw—and artifacts
dating back to the arrival of the Pilgrims. The second floor is set up
as if it is still occupied by 19th century tourists. Open Summers.
Jenny Lind Tower, seen from Highland Station parking lot. In 1850, Jenny
Lind, the Swedish nightingale and a famous 19th century opera diva, sang
from the top of this tower when the Boston exhibition hall where she was
booked could not accommodate all ticket-holders. Lind climbed the tower
next to her hotel and gave a free concert to the people in the street.
In 1927, the hotel was destined for demolition and Boston lawyer and
Lind fan Henry Aldrich purchased it, moving the entire tower, brick by
brick, to land he owned in Truro.
Wreck of the Frances. This is a unique historic site in that it is a
19th-century shipwreck that can still be seen out in the water off
Truro's Head of the Meadow Beach. A 120-foot German bark, the Frances,
wrecked here on the evening of December 26, 1872. Though all hands were
saved by a crew of Truro volunteers headed up by Capt. Edwin Worthen,
the keeper of the newly-built Highland Lifesaving Station, Capt.
Kortling of the Frances would die of illness three days later. Today the
black iron hull of the Frances pokes up occasionally above the Atlantic
waves and serves as a memorial to the more than 1,000 shipwrecks that
have occurred along the outer Cape over the past three and a half
centuries. Head of the Meadow Beach, Head of the Meadow Road.