January 20, 2010
With so many destinations on the map when it comes to visiting Cape Cod, there are some very obvious ones that tend to get overlooked. One such place is seen by every single person who ever visits the Cape: the Cape Cod Canal. Stretching just over seventeen miles in length from Cape Cod Bay to Buzzards Bay and crossed by three bridges the Canal is a man made miracle that gets lost sometimes in the allure of the many beautiful beaches and shops of the Cape. This article is going to be all about the Canal and what there is to see along its shores. Being far too long it will be divided into an on Cape article and an off Cape article.
Located a few hundred yards from the bay end of the Canal is a Power Plant owned and run by the Atlanta-based energy company, Mirant. A trail way leads from the mouth of the Canal back toward one of the visitor’s centers. Directly across from the visitor’s center is the Coast Guard station as they, along with many fishermen, operate out of the small harbor at the Sandwich Marina.
Route 6A is the best way to follow the Canal. There is a service road for authorized vehicles and bike trails running along either side of the waterway but most of the sights along the Canal can be driven to without a problem. Traveling along 6A, the first major sight is that of the Sagamore Bridge. Opened in 1935 and spanning 1,408 feet across the Canal, this bridge is the way to get onto the Cape from Boston and points north as it continues seamlessly from Route 3 to Route 6. The ‘Sagamore Flyover’ project, completed in 2006 replaced a rotary that caused traffic to become severely congested with an easier to navigate system of roads.
Sandwich Road continues and it is along here that the visit to the Canal takes on a more historic twist. After passing by the Jonathan Bourne Library a right hand turn down Perry Avenue will lead you to the Aptucxet Trading Post museum. Built in 1627 it was the first trading post used by the fledgling Plymouth Colony. The building that stands is a replica of the original, but the museum houses excavated pieces of the nearly 400-year old building inside. Not to be missed as well sitting less than a hundred feet from the Aptucxet Trading Post museum is the Gray Gables railroad station. It was created for President Grover Cleveland whose summer home in Bourne was named Gray Gables. The building was moved to the Aptucxet grounds in 1976.
Directions: Cape Cod Bay end of the Canal: On Cape, take Rt. 6A into Sandwich, take a right onto Tupper Rd. to Town Neck Rd. Off Cape, take Exit 1C after crossing Sagamore Bridge, turn right onto Sandwich Road. Follow it just over a mile and take a left onto Tupper Rd.
Bourne Recreation Area: Follow Sandwich Rd. west along Canal. Bear right before Bourne rotary. Recreation area is right turn at foot of bridge.