Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In My Footsteps: Trip 129: Wareham, Massachusetts

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 129: Wareham, Massachusetts
June 14, 2012

            Though it is technically not considered a part of Cape Cod, Wareham shares many of the same qualities of a classic Cape village.  Wareham is considered the ‘Gateway to Cape Cod’ as the first town west of the Cape Cod Canal.  It was obviously once part of the Cape before the Canal was constructed. 
Tremont Nail Factory Building
            Wareham shares its name with a town in England and was originally settled as a part of the surrounding towns of Rochester and Plymouth in 1678.  Incorporated in 1739, the town mixes beautiful beaches and historic buildings with a highly developed retail center filled with stores and restaurants.  Perhaps most well known in Wareham is the Tremont Nail Factory which is the oldest manufacturer of nails in the country, established in 1819.  The Old Company Store across the street from the factory is a popular spot as well.  It is an old time gift shop with penny candy and gourmet foods as well. 
Old Company Store
            Located a few doors down from the Tremont Nail Factory is another well known spot.  The Benjamin Fearing Tavern Museum was originally the home of Isaac Bump, a local miller, when it was first built in 1690.  It became the tavern in 1747.  Besides being one of the oldest homes in Wareham it has also been the site of possible paranormal activity.  In 2008 researchers from a local show Spooky Southcoast conducting hours of tests in the old tavern.  Though the results were somewhat inconclusive it definitely will make any visitor keep their eyes and ears opened.
            If you take Route 6 west into Wareham it does not take long to find a beautiful scenic spot.  A right turn onto Red Brook Road leads you to Buttermilk Bay and the adjoining Little Buttermilk Bay.  These bodies of water are great for fishing and the Bourne Bridge hovers above the tree line which gives perspective as to how close spots like these are to major highways.  Route 6 continues west and crosses the Agawam River before hitting the retail center of Wareham.  This river has been one of the most important herring rivers in the state since 1632 and is one of the few remaining operated herring runs left in Massachusetts.
Fearing Tavern Museum
            The Wareham Town Hall is located near the retail center as Route 6 becomes also known as Marion Road.  It stands in front of the middle school and across the street from the Wareham Free Library.  It looks the part of an old government building in amongst the modern retail stores.  There is also a really nice railroad station located behind Main Street and along the Agawam River.  There is still freight rail service in Wareham but at this time no passenger service.  Of course for families coming to visit there must be a stop at Water Wizz, the popular water park located near the Cranberry Shopping Plaza on Rt. 6.
            Much like Cape Cod, Wareham has its share of smaller villages that make up the bigger town.  One such village is Weweantic.  A left turn from Rt. 6 onto Cromesett Rd. will take you out onto this tiny peninsula that sticks out into Buzzards Bay.  Bordered on the east by Marks Cove and on the west by Pattons Cove and Briarwood Beach, Weweantic is a great little detour off of the main road and sports tremendous views from all sides.
Buttermilk Bay with the Bourne Bridge on the right.
            Another beautiful spot is a little harder to get to if it is to be fully appreciated.  Stony Point Dike is a man made strip of land that stretches out a mile into Buzzards Bay.  It is what was created by the dredging of the Cape Cod Canal.  It is located at the end of Great Neck Road but can be seen on the horizon from Little Harbor Beach.  For kayaking lovers it is a perfect trip, just over a mile, from the beach to Stony Point.  It should be noted that swimming and paddling on the Canal side of Stony Point is prohibited and dangerous.
Wareham gives you all that you could want in a seaside town.  There are beautiful beaches, historic buildings with fascinating stories, and there are also plenty of shopping areas for those that are not as into nature and history as I am.  These spots are so close to the Cape but can at times be overlooked by people on the way to New Bedford or Providence.  I highly recommend taking a day trip to discover Wareham.  Have fun and happy traveling!

Directions: Buttermilk Bay: From Rt. 6 heading west, turn right onto Red Brook Rd., continue onto Head of the Bay Rd.  Turn right onto Old Head of the Bay Rd.  This gives you the best view of Little Buttermilk Bay and Buttermilk Bay through Gibbs Narrows.

Tremont Nail Company: from Rt. 28 heading west turn left at Mayflower Ridge Dr., then quick right at Elm Street.  Old Company Store is directly across the street.  

References:    Tremont Nail Company
                       Water Wizz
                       Wareham Historical Society
                       Wareham - Official Town Page
                       Wicked - Something to Fear at the Fearing Tavern?