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History During Your Travels to PTown: First Encounter Beach

For those who visit Provincetown, there are a variety of ways to arrive. During the summer, there are ferries from the mainland. Most of the year, airplanes can come into the Provincetown Municipal Airport…

However, the most popular way to visit Provincetown is via automobile, taking in the coastal environment as you move from mainland, to sandy inland, to the beach. And you’ll see all of these during the 60+ mile trek from Sagamore, MA (known as the edge of the mainland here) to Provincetown.

But what else can you see during your drive to the magical destination of Provincetown? Everything from architecture to nautical sights… and even some sites of historical significance as well. While we hate to prolong your trip to our beautiful shores, we’d like to point out some stops of interest to consider during your travels through Cape Cod. Over the next several months, we’ll occasionally touch on something you can see and/or do during your travels on the Mid-Cape Highway.

Because autumn has come to many parts of the United States, we bring to your attention Eastham, MA: the gate to the Cape Cod National Seashore, and home to the First Encounter Beach and Monument. It is on this site that members of the Wampanoag nation (the Nauset tribe, to be exact) first encountered sailors from the Mayflower fleet in November, 1620, and later interacted with explorers from Plymoth Colony in 1621.

firstencounterplaqueAt the time of this second meeting, the few colonists at Eastham were celebrating a successful harvest. One year earlier, members of the Wampanoag nation had taught the settlers how to grow local crops (corn, beans and squash) and how to catch and prepare fish and seafood. During the celebration, shots were fired, prompting the indigenous peoples to assume war was coming. A large group of 90 male tribe members went to the site, prepared to protect their people. But instead of a fight, they found a celebration and promptly gathered deer and fowl to provide additional food for the celebration. This encounter is what would become known as “The First Thanksgiving”, and while the “natives” might see the event as marking something completely different in history than those early settlers, November has become the time when we celebrate life and sustenance through food in memory of this early encounter.

So if you love history, take a short break at Eastham and think back to those early days of exploration and tentative peace between the country’s original inhabitants and the new settlers. Then continue your journey to Provincetown where you can see the site of the very first Pilgrim’s landing before enjoying a wonderful vacation on our shores.

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