Monday, March 30, 2020

In Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - Bartholomew Gosnold

     Every story begins somewhere. Today in the midst of the 21st century Cape Cod is several centuries into its existence as a European-settled land. The Pilgrims first landed at Provincetown before shoving off to Plymouth in 1620. Rumors have persisted for many years that Leif Eriksson, or his brother Thorvald, was the first to step foot on Cape Cod around 1000. For all of the debate of who was first to arrive on the Cape there is no debate as to the person who gave this peninsula its name. That distinction goes to England’s own Bartholomew Gosnold. Here is his story before and after landing on these shores.

     Gosnold was born in 1571 at the family home at Otley Hall in the town of Ipswich in Suffolk, United Kingdom. Otley Hall, dating back to the 16th century, is consistently voted one of the Top 20 historic homes in the country.

     Gosnold studied law in London at Middle Temple in 1592. He was married to Mary Golding in 1597. In a surprising twist Gosnold shifted careers from law to maritime. His career shift began as he was a skipper for Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh established the Roanoke Colony in present-day North Carolina in the 1580’s.

     In 1599 Gosnold was in charge of a ship called Diamond from Southampton on a privateering voyage against Spanish ships in the area of the Azores of Portugal. A privateer being essentially a pirate with government protection. It netted Gosnold approximately 50,000 British pounds adjusted for today. Whether Gosnold wanted to continue with law is unknown as that first maritime voyage convinced him to keep on that path. It also gave him the currency to fund his next big voyage. 

Head and shoulders of a  colonial man in elegant clothes.
Captain Bartholomew Gosnold. Sculpted figure by StudioEIS based on forensic facial reconstruction by sculptor Amanda Danning.
(Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History)

     On March 26, 1602 Gosnold departed Falmouth, Cornwall, England for the New World. He was joint captain of a 39-foot barque called Concord with a crew of 32 including himself. A new route led Gosnold north of the Azores and then due west from there. The Concord sailed the Atlantic Ocean for 50 days before arriving on the shores of the New World. The new faster route was followed 18 years later by the Mayflower.

     On May 14, 1602 Gosnold stepped on to the shore somewhere in mid-coast Maine, possibly around Cape Elizabeth. Those on board were shocked to be greeted by a Native American wearing European shoes and clothing. The stay was brief and Gosnold sailed south along the Maine coastline for a few days, docking briefly in York.

     The next land the Concord saw was Provincetown as they docked in the harbor. It was at this point that due to the abundance of codfish in the waters caused Gosnold to give the peninsula the name Cape Cod. It took a week but the Concord sailed around the arm of the Cape and southwest across the water until striking land again. He called the island he landed on Martha’s Vineyard for his daughter who had died in infancy in 1598 and for the abundance of wild grapes. However Gosnold actually landed on the smaller Noman’s Land 3 miles south of the actual Martha’s Vineyard, although the name was eventually transferred to the larger island.

     Gosnold and the Concord headed north, passing the cliffs at Aquinnah and naming them Dover Cliffs. He sailed into Buzzard’s Bay, calling it Gosnold’s Hope. The ship docked on another piece of land, an island he name Elizabeth Isle for Queen Elizabeth I. This island would later become known as Cuttyhunk of the Elizabeth Islands.

     The ship sailed around to the northern side of the island and docked outside present-day West End Pond. Inside the pond was a small island, less than an acre in size, where Gosnold and his crew built a makeshift stone fort. The settlement on Cuttyhunk barely lasted a month. A hostile meeting with local Native Americans combined with the realization that they lacked the provisions to last the winter meant that the crew had to head back to England. On June 18, 1602 the ship left Cuttyhunk with a cargo of furs, cedarwood, and sassafras. He was seen basically as a failure upon his return since no permanent colony had been established. 

Gosnold at Cuttyhunk. Painting by Albert Bierstadt 1858
(Public Domain)

     Gosnold returned to the New World a few years later. He left England aboard the ship Godspeed in December 1606. In April the crew arrived in Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of the James River. This journey was a success and the first permanent European settlement in the New World was established in the form of Jamestown, Virginia. 

Historic Jamestown, Virginia
(Christopher Setterlund)

     Despite the accomplishment of the settlement 50 of the 104 of the population died during the hot summer. Dysentery, malaria, swamp fever, and malnutrition were rampant. On August 22, 1607 the terrible conditions claimed the life of Bartholomew Gosnold. He was buried outside of the settlement’s fort with full military honors.

     In addition to giving Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard their names Gosnold is immortalized in another area he discovered. On Cuttyhunk, on the tiny island where he built a fort in 1602, now named Gosnold Island, stands the Bartholomew Gosnold Monument. Standing 50-feet tall the cornerstone was laid in 1902 and dedicated September 1, 1903. 

The Bartholomew Gosnold Monument at Cuttyhunk, 1903
(New Bedford Free Public Library)

     Bartholomew Gosnold as an explorer is largely a forgotten name. He does not have any cities or universities or things of the like named in his honor. Even his gravesite at Jamestown was lost. Archaeologists believe they found it in 2003, DNA testing has not been totally conclusive but is likely the final resting place of Gosnold. His contributions to the European colonization of America cannot be overlooked, they are especially felt in Jamestown and right here on Cape Cod.

My 5th book, Cape Cod Nights, is on sale at and through Arcadia Publishing

View my previous blog postsIn Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - Christmas Tree Shops

Cape Cod Sunsets 2020 Calendar available at Zazzle here: Cape Cod Living Store

Be sure to check out my websiteChristopher

Friday, March 27, 2020

In Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - Billingsgate Island

     Time gives and time takes away. Throughout history people, places, and things arrive and disappear, some lost to history. This is no different on Cape Cod. When driving along the main streets and back roads longtime residents often remark of what used to be where and who used to live there. Losing a building is common, but an entire community? That is something far more rare. It happened 150 years ago in Provincetown at Long Point when the majority of the settlement was floated across the harbor to make up some of the homes along Commercial and Bradford Streets. However Long Point itself still exists. Another community was lost to time about a century ago. This was different. This was nature reclaiming the land it stood on. Shoreline change and erosion is nothing new. This is the story of Cape Cod’s ‘Atlantis.’ This is the story of Billingsgate Island.

     Today Billingsgate is a shoal, and a footnote in Cape Cod history. For many decades though it was a bustling community. Located approximately three miles west of Eastham's Sunken Meadow Beach, just south of Jeremy Point, sat Billingsgate Island. At its peak size the island encompassed roughly 60 acres of land. For comparison the small island of Muskeget, just off of Nantucket, is roughly 292 acres in size and just over a mile across at its widest. Noted by the Pilgrims on their journey from Provincetown to Plymouth its first known European inhabitants were Mayflower passenger Constance Hopkins and her husband Nicholas Snow in the 1640’s.
     During the first quarter of the 18th century Billingsgate, along with neighboring Great Island, were made the headquarters of the fishing and whaling industry in the area. In 1721 Billingsgate was designated a parish and officially the North Precinct of Eastham. At the time there were many complaints by the people of mainland Eastham about fishermen and whalers sneaking to the town commons and cutting down trees to be used on the island. Billingsgate became part of the new town of Wellfleet when it separated itself from Eastham in May 1763.
     The peak of Billingsgate was the mid-19th century. It was a prosperous fishing village which would be inhabited during the warmer months by as many as 80 people. The population of the island began to grow in 1821 when a salt works was constructed and in 1822 when the Federal government bought four acres of land for $100 ($2,200 in 2020) upon which a lighthouse was built. The first keeper was William Moore and he would remain on the island year-round, sometimes alone for months at a time in winter. In the decades following the construction of the lighthouse the island would grow to include thirty homes, a schoolhouse, a store, oil works, and a baseball team which would row across the bay to play other teams from the Outer Cape. It was a paradise out of a storybook.
     However, not too long after the lighthouse was built it became apparent that something was happening to the island. The same erosion which batters the coastline today was slowly chipping away at Billingsgate. As early as 1850, in a report by then-lighthouse keeper Francis Krogman, it was noted that the island was ‘washing away very fast.’ An 1854 storm damaged the lighthouse so badly that $14,000 ($426,000 in 2020) was appropriated for the construction of a new one, located further to the north on higher ground, which was completed in September 1858.
1871 Map of Cape Cod with Billingsgate Island circled
(National Public Domain Archives)

     In 1863 it was noted that at high tide the island stood only 13-feet above sea level. With one eye on the booming fishing and whaling industries and the other on the creeping erosion the community would continue to thrive into the latter half of the 19th century. The eroding shores created dangerous shoals around Billingsgate, leading to several ships running aground. This included the schooner S & E Corson from Philadelphia which sunk in April 1879 with its cargo of coal. In 1888, with erosion threatening the lighthouse, a 1,000-foot sea wall and bulkhead was constructed to try to buy some time. It ended up doing the opposite and speeding up the erosion.

     Slowly but surely the fishermen and their families left Billingsgate. The homes would be taken down and floated across the bay to be resurrected in the towns along the Outer Cape. The twenty-by-twenty-foot schoolhouse would be taken down around the turn of the 20th century when only about six families remained on the island. Despite the mass exodus some still saw Billingsgate as an attractive destination. This included Dr. Maurice Richardson of Boston who paid a total of $785 ($24,400 in 2020) for two lots on the island and built a summer home there in 1897.
Billingsgate Lighthouse circa 1897

     The 20th century saw the demise of Billingsgate Island. A 600-foot breakwater built in 1905 failed to stem the tide. The homes which had dotted the land had been moved, only oyster shacks and hunting camps remained. The lighthouse would crumble in a storm on the day after Christmas in 1915 and be replaced by a skeleton light fixture on a tripod. Around this same time, after his death, the summer home of Dr. Richardson was taken down. The last keeper of the light, Henry Daniels, would spend three nearly-uninterrupted years on the disappearing land mass at the same time guarding the valuable oyster beds from 1917-1920. The island remained a haven for shellfishing, but these were mostly day-trips from the mainland as it shrunk to a mere 5 acres by the 1920’s.

     The natural process of erosion never ceases and in December 1932 the skeleton lighthouse had fallen due to the high tides. It was replaced by a lighted bell buoy. The breakwater was dismantled in 1935 to be used for repair work at Wellfleet Harbor. In 1942 the tides would submerge the entire island for the first time, officially ending Billingsgate Island and creating Billingsgate Shoal. In the years after its loss fishermen asked for a new lighthouse to be built at the tip of Jeremy Point to aide in navigation, however that never occurred.
Present-day coordinated of where Billingsgate Lighthouse stood circa 1853
(Google Maps)

     Today Cape Cod’s ‘Atlantis’ still lives on in photographs, the homes which are dotted around Wellfleet and surrounding areas, artifacts, and writings about the island including from Henry David Thoreau in his Cape Cod book. The shoal is frequently visible at low tide making it a popular picnicking spot. If one is lucky they may even stumble upon a brick from the old lighthouse’s foundation. It is impossible to step foot on the sandy shoal of what was once a thriving community and not take a moment to think about the power of the sea. It is impossible not to think of all that once stood there and remember to enjoy each and every day because at some point it could all be but a memory, much like Billingsgate Island.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

In Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - The Christmas Tree Shop

     Several generations of Cape Codders and those who flock there to visit know of the unique holiday-themed series of local stores known as the Christmas Tree Shop. The stores that became a beloved staple of many a weekend morning of running errands. Its roots are all Cape Cod yet over time it expanded and grew so large that it could no longer be considered a ‘mom and pop’ operation. From humble beginnings to a branch on a larger corporation’s tree, this is the story of a Cape Cod treasure.

     What became known as Christmas Tree Shop began as an idea of Charles and Alyce Matthews of Yarmouth Port. In July 1946 33-year-old Charles and 37-year-old Alyce came to the Cape from New York. They purchased a home and a small store at the corner of Willow Street and Route 6A in Yarmouth Port that had previously been a grocery store owned by Harry Davidson. Charles was a 12th generation Cape Codder. His father Albert Matthews, though born in Buffalo, New York, was a direct descendant of the Matthews family that had first come to Cape Cod in 1638. He had kept a summer home in Barnstable.

A postcard of The Christmas Shop
(Sturgis Library)

     After some minor improvements to the shop, including painting both the interior and exterior and adding dark green blinds, it was opened in time for the 1947 summer season and known as the Old Corner Shop. The building was made up originally of two smaller shops, Wayside Shop run by Katherine Gourley of Melrose, and Lavinia’s Window run by Gladys Beasley of Falmouth, both were considered antique shops. The property was more of a compound known collectively as ‘Old Corner.’ There was also the Old Corner Guest House and another small building formerly used for laundry service. The laundry service building was purchased in the summer of 1947 and removed from the property.

     In November 1949 Charles and Alyce Matthews took over the Wayside Shop side of the Old Corner Shop and renamed the store the Christmas Shop. Charles used woodworking talents to repair antiques while Alyce’s training in the arts allowed her to create greeting cards, silver jewelry, and ceramics. Their contributions were soon joined by other local artists works making the store a hit right off the bat.

     In February 1952 another land purchase would change the store’s trajectory. Charles and Alyce bought a neighboring parcel of land containing a barn that they wished to use as part of an expansion of the Christmas Shop. The following month the Christmas Shop officially became known as Christmas Tree Shop running out of the barn with the additional land being used for a parking lot.

After becoming Christmas Tree Shop
(Sturgis Library)

     The larger store allowed the Matthews to expand their inventory to more than 200,000 items. Visitors came from all over the country, Europe and Australia to browse and buy to the tune of more than 75,000 per year by 1955. Alyce Matthews became a leading business woman on Cape Cod, becoming president of the Cape Cod Business and Professional Women’s Club. In 1956 the Christmas Tree Shop’s success allowed the business to remain open year-round, they had been closing for three months after Christmas until then. Its unique appearance inside the barn also made it one of the most photographed businesses on Cape Cod as well.

     Though the Christmas Tree Shop was a success there were troubles ahead. 14-hour days began to weigh on Charles and Alyce. This, coupled with strict Sunday business laws, began to eat away at profits. Business slowed in 1959 and 1960 to the point where involuntary bankruptcy was filed against the couple in June 1961. The property was taken and purchased by Donald Winner of Lawrence in September 1961. Charles and Alyce Matthews were no longer involved in their beloved creation.

     The 1960’s were a time of varying success yet were relatively uneventful for the Christmas Tree Shop. It was only opened during the summer and continued to not be open on Sundays. It was not seen as a hugely promising venture when it was bought by Charles Bilezikian of Newton in 1970. The 33-year old Bilezikian along with his wife Doreen bought the Christmas Tree Shop and began by adding an ‘s’ to Shop. It was hardly the only change. 

     Bilezikian worked endlessly to take the business beyond its original location. Within a few years new locations had opened in West Yarmouth and West Dennis. In November 1975 Bilezikian bought four railroad cars formerly owned by the bankrupt New Haven line and placed them on property he owned along the tracks near downtown Hyannis. This became the backbone of the new Christmas Tree Shops location, part of Christmas Crossing, which opened in mid-1977.

The Sagamore Bridge location.
(Weight Loss
     Bilezikian’s hard work resulted in the purchase of another Cape Cod icon, the Cape Cod Coliseum in May 1984. It would be used to house the Christmas Tree Shops executive offices and warehouse space. This was followed shortly thereafter by a new store at the foot of the Sagamore Bridge complete with the world’s largest thatched roof. More stores followed throughout the 1980’s
including the Christmas Tree Plaza on Rt. 132 as Christmas Tree Shops became a New England and northeast staple for home decor, gift-ware, housewares, food, paper goods, and seasonal products.

Charles and Doreen had overseen the enormous growth of the former seasonal gift shop into a regional powerhouse. It outgrew its original location, and outgrew its warehouse in the former Cape Cod Coliseum. Despite the success they wanted to ensure its existence was safe for years to come. At the turn of the 21st century they made a tough decision to sell.

     In June 2003 the entirety of Christmas Tree Shops, including all 23 stores in 6 states at the time, was purchased by Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. for $200 million. It was a lucrative purchase for the company as in 2002 Christmas Tree Shop’s net sales were in excess of $370 million. Charles and Doreen did stay on with the company keeping some sense of symmetry.

     Today the Christmas Tree Shops business has expanded far beyond the New England borders. In 2013 the franchise created the 'andThat!' branch of the stores for use in non-regional markets. For places unfamiliar with the legacy of Christmas Tree Shops over the previous four decades like Wisconsin, Delaware, Virginia, Michigan, Georgia, and Florida it was a new take on an old staple.

Christmas Tree Shops logo

     From a small corner lot on Willow Street and Route 6A (today the Fresh Picked gift shop) to more than 70 stores in 21 states the original vision of Charles and Alyce Matthews grew to the most well known gift shop on the Cape and then New England thanks to Charles and Doreen Bilezikian. For Cape Codders though the Christmas Tree Shops legacy is far simpler as a place that has always been a go-to for what you needed at the price you wanted.

My 5th book, Cape Cod Nights, is on sale at and through Arcadia Publishing

View my previous blog postsIn Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - Cape Cod Bank and Trust

Cape Cod Sunsets 2020 Calendar available at Zazzle here: Cape Cod Living Store

Be sure to check out my websiteChristopher

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Travel Tuesday #4 - Chatham Lighthouse Beach Sunrise

     The fourth installment of Travel Tuesday gets up early in the morning to capture the sunrise in Chatham. The spot chosen here is Lighthouse Beach due to Chatham Lighthouse standing stoically across the parking lot.

     This photo was taken in September 2014 at that time of year the sunrise in Chatham ranges between 6:06am at the beginning of the month to 6:36am at the end of the month. Though this was from September the sunrise is exquisite from Lighthouse Beach all year round. The best part of this photo is that you can stay in your car and wait in the warmth for nature to do its job. If it is warmer you can walk out on to the beach and get similar spectacular shots. Lighthouse Beach itself was partially a creation of the break in North Beach in 1987. A powerful Nor’easter broke through the barrier beach in January 1987 and by 1994 South Beach had curled in and attached to the mainland leading to a new stretch of beach lying in front of the lighthouse and parking lot.

     The one caveat to this photo is the fishing boat passing underneath the rising sun. Just over a mile north of Lighthouse Beach is the Chatham Fish Pier where the countless boats depart and return almost daily. It is mainly just a matter of timing to capture a departing boat passing under the rising sun. You could have several chances to replicate this photo as boats during the morning stream past the beach. As of 2017 it was noted that 87 fishing boats used the Chatham Fish Pier so there is ample opportunity.

Where to go to take this photo: Lighthouse Beach is located on Main Street in Chatham. There is a small parking area directly in front of Chatham Light.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

In Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - J.L. Panesis & Co.

     A brick from the West Barnstable Brick Factory is a highly sought after collector’s item when it comes to those who live or have lived on Cape Cod. Another piece of Cape Cod’s past that people have seen popping up across the internet on sites like eBay is in the form of a glass bottle. These heavy glass bottles are engraved with the name J.L. Panesis & Co. Who was J.L. Panesis? What was the company all about? This is the fascinating story of the man and the company behind the glass bottles.

     James L. Panesis, the man behind the name of the company, was born in Agios Petros, Greece. Orphaned as a child Panesis took a huge risk and left for America with no more than five cents to his name. After passing through Ellis Island Panesis met up with a cousin who lived near Middleboro. He helped sell produce at Fanueil Hall before trying his hand selling the produce on Cape Cod. Selling out his wares completely on his first try Panesis decided the Cape was a perfect place to open his own shop.

     In March 1912 James Panesis, along with his brother Spero, opened a retail and wholesale business selling fruit, confectionery (candy/sweets), cigars and more in the Keveney & Bearse Building on Main Street Hyannis, opposite the Iyanough House hotel which had itself been built in 1910. The business was known as J.L. Panesis & Co. Panesis was one of the founding members of the Greek settlement on Cape Cod.

A 1922 Ad from Cape Cod Magazine

     The business was an immediate success. Within a year James needed a new truck for bringing their deliveries to Hyannis from Boston and within two years had taken over the entirety of the Keveney & Bearse Building. This occurred when the Hyannis Lighting Co. moved a few doors down in April 1914. James married Dina Navroyanis from Lynn in February 1915 and their home on North Ocean Street (today Barnstable Road) in Hyannis was totally remodeled and renovated for the new couple.

     Things changed in February 1916 when Spero sold his share of the company leaving James to run the successful company on his own. The company continued to thrive in the aftermath of Spero leaving. In 1919 a garage was built on the premises to begin Panesis’ newest venture. It was called Hyannis Well Spring Beverages based off of the biblical picture ‘Rebecca at the Well.’ Advertised as ‘delicious, refreshing, and invigorating’ this pure fruit juice came in flavors such as orangeade, champagne cider, and ‘Paneco’ ginger ale.
Inside the factory
(Courtesy Nicole Sulea)

     Tragedy nearly derailed the company though when on February 13, 1920 James’ wife Dina died suddenly at the young age of 27 from a combination of premature childbirth and the Spanish flu outbreak. Somehow James Panesis carried on and oversaw his company's next big move.

     In October 1921 a larger factory was built behind Panesis’ North Ocean Street home (present-day 65 Barnstable Road) as creating Hyannis Well Spring tonic had proved fruitful.  The factory cost $10,000 ($144,000 in 2020). Every precaution was taken to provide customers with the highest quality product, this included sterilizing every glass bottle before filling it with a beverage. New flavors arrived routinely such as lemon-lime, cream soda, root beer, loganberry, and Eskimo soda. By 1926 J.L. Panesis & Co. had become so big it was a Coca-Cola bottler and distributor.

Outside of the factory on Barnstable Road
(Courtesy of Nicole Sulea)

     James Panesis was a huge part of the increasingly successful Greek population of Hyannis. He would routinely gather with others like George Garoufes owner of the Mayflower Cafe, and his nephew Peter Panesis owner of New York Sandwich Shop. This included trips back to Greece during the 1920’s. The Greek church arranged a second marriage between James and Roubiny Stavrianolpoulos although it was not a classic love connection it did last until James’ death.

     Another tragedy struck James Panesis in May 1939. His brother Spero, who had begun the company with him, took his own life. Spero had been in ill health and had only recently been released from the hospital. Sadly he left behind his wife and four children.

     After serving in World War II James’ sons Angelo and Louis joined the business. Angelo was the manager and Louis was production manager. The Hyannis Well Spring department of J.L. Panesis & Co. became distributor of Mission and White Rock brands of carbonated drinks and continued its success throughout the 1950's.

One of the glass bottles.
(Courtesy of Nicole Sulea)

     In 1960 J.L. Panesis & Co and Hyannis Well Spring Beverages closed with the retirement of James Panesis at the age of 74. Angelo and Louis went to work for Coca-Cola’s bottling plant in Sandwich after the closing of the company. James and Roubiny lived at their home on Barnstable Road until James passed in April 1970 at the age of 84. Roubiny passed in 1979. Today the property that once held the J.L. Panesis & Co. and Hyannis Well Spring factory is part of one of the busiest sections of Cape Cod.

     James Panesis came from nothing, orphaned and nearly penniless, and took a huge risk leaving his native Greece to find a better life in America just after the turn of the 20th century. Though there were tragedies and hardships the tale of Panesis in America and specifically on Cape Cod can only be seen as a success. A kind, fair, and honest business man along with the patriarch of a successful Greek family on the Cape James Panesis is one shining example of the American dream and why that idea is still so important here in the 21st century.

     A huge thank you for the facts and photos of this article goes out to Nicole Sulea. She is the great-granddaughter of James Panesis and a native Cape Codder living in Maine. Please check out her vintage fashion shop Heirloom Antiques and Vintage Boutique at 19 Temple Street, Waterville, ME. 

On Facebook here: Heirloom Vintage Boutique 

And on Instagram here: Heirloom Vintage Boutique

My 5th book, Cape Cod Nights, is on sale at and through Arcadia Publishing

Cape Cod Sunsets 2020 Calendar available at Zazzle here: Cape Cod Living Store

Be sure to check out my websiteChristopher

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

In My Footsteps: Scranton, PA

     Synonymous with the classic television show The Office the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania gives fans glimpses into the world of Dunder Mifflin. However there is much more to this city than just Michael Scott’s hangouts.

     Incorporated in 1866 Scranton is nicknamed ‘The Electric City.’ It lies among the Moosic Mountains and is the sixth-largest city in Pennsylvania. Part of Lackawanna County one of the city’s top attractions is the Lackawanna Coal Mine.

     Located as part of the more than 200-acres of McDade Park the complex contains the actual coal mine first opened in 1860. The mine was in use until 1966 when it closed and remained abandoned until 1978. It was at that point that $2.5 million in federal money was granted to convert the property into a museum.

     Typically open from April through November the Lackawanna Coal Mine gives tours where people can take a trip 300-feet underground in a mine car down the Slope #190 tunnel. It is 53-degrees year-round in the mine so appropriate clothing and footwear is recommended and the tour is just over an hour.

Entrance to the Lackawanna Coal Mine tunnel.

     The Anthracite Heritage Museum, which provides education about Scranton’s history in coal and its related industries, is also located on the grounds of the Lackawanna Coal Mine. One such related attraction is the Iron Furnaces located about 3 ½ miles east of the museum. Started in 1840 as Scranton, Grant, & Company it had the country’s largest iron production capacity by 1865. McDade Park and the Lackawanna Coal Mine are basically a package deal and you can enjoy both at the same time.

     Near the Iron Furnaces site is the Steamtown National Historic Site. This National Park celebrates railroad transportation, specifically steam-engine locomotives. There are historic trains as well as active trains located on 40 acres of the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. First opened in 1986 the park grounds are open year round. At the other end of the grounds is the Electric City Trolley Museum. They are not owned by the same group though, the trolley museum is run by Lackawanna County. The trolley museum celebrates the fact that in 1887 Scranton became Pennsylvania’s first city with a trolley line. This earned Scranton the nickname the ‘Electric City.’

Steamtown National Historic Site

     For fans of The Office though Scranton provides a chance to see and visit places made famous from the show’s 9 seasons. Only walking distance from the Steamtown National Historic Site is The Marketplace at Steamtown. Part of a plan to revitalize the downtown area it was opened in 1993 as the Mall at Steamtown. It was routinely referred to as the Steamtown Mall on The Office. It was purchased in 2015 and rechristened The Marketplace at Steamtown. Inside of it is the 'Scranton Welcomes You' sign seen at the beginning of The Office opening.  Though there is no actual Dunder Mifflin company located close to The Marketplace at Steamtown is Mifflin Avenue.

On the second floor of The Marketplace at Steamtown

     The two most popular Office locales in Scranton though have to do with food and drink.

     First is Alfredo’s Cafe. This restaurant was known for being the home of the ‘good pizza’ on The Office. Inside the restaurant are several reminders of this fact and the pizza is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to food and atmosphere.

     Second is Poor Richard’s Pub. Inside Idle Hours South entertainment complex this spot was a frequently mentioned hangout on The Office. It is possible to stop in for a drink and also check out the actual Dundie award located behind the bar. There are also Office-inspired drinks typically on the menu.

The Dundie Award at Poor Richard's Pub

     One of the largest cities in Pennsylvania Scranton has mountains, coal mines, historic trains, a renewed downtown district and all of the Office sites one could hope for.

Check out my YouTube video featuring Scranton:  In My Footsteps: Scranton, PA

If You Go:
  1. Lackawanna Coal Mine Museum – Bald Mountain Road/McDade Park
  2. Steamtown National Historic Site – 350 Cliff Street
  3. Electric City Trolley Museum – 300 Cliff Street
  4. Alfredo’s Cafe – 1040 S. Washington Avenue
  5. Poor Richard’s Pub – 125 Beech Street
Helpful Links:
My 5th book, Cape Cod Nights, is on sale at and through Arcadia Publishing

Cape Cod Sunsets 2020 Calendar available at Zazzle here: Cape Cod Living Store

Be sure to check out my websiteChristopher

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Travel Tuesday #3 - Race Point Lighthouse

     The third installment of Travel Tuesday goes back to Provincetown and the explores Race Point Lighthouse. Located at the tip of Cape Cod Wood End is one of three lighthouses in town.

Race Point Lighthouse
(Christopher Setterlund c. 2014)

     This photo was taken in May 2014 during an open house at Race Point Lighthouse. It frames the white iron-plated lighthouse in the doorway of the Whistle House. The photo itself is simple however it is getting to this spot that is the challenge. There is a walking trail located a little less than a mile north of Herring Cove Beach on Province Lands Road. From there it is more than 1 ½ miles out to the lighthouse, some over soft sand and the terrain changes somewhat with the tides.

     The walk out to the lighthouse is along Hatches Harbor and passes the Provincetown Airport. Race Point Lighthouse itself was built in 1876, replacing an old stone lighthouse that had been built in 1816. Ironically even though Cape Cod is being ravaged by erosion in many places Race Point is actually one where the shoreline is increasing. Some of the sand taken from neighboring beaches is carried north to the point increasing Race Point’s size, and thus protecting the lighthouse when several other Cape lights (Nauset, Highland, Gay Head) have had to be moved back from eroding cliffs.

     The wide open space of the dunes surrounding the lighthouse make for many beautifully scenic shots besides this one. However to get this particular shot it is important to choose a time when the grounds are open for tours. This is the first and third Saturdays of the month from June through October. This shot is from the entrance of the Whistle House roughly at midday. The brick Whistle House, built in the early 1870’s, originally housed a fog signal. It was renovated in 1999 and was first the field station for the Center for Coastal Studies. Currently it is available for rentals during the summer.

     Even if not able to visit Race Point Light during an open house it is possible to walk out and enjoy the scenery at any point in the year. It is great for sunrises and sunsets alike.

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Where to go to take this photo

     Race Point Lighthouse can be accessed by off-road vehicle, or walking. Off-road vehicles start from Race Point Beach, walking is easiest from a small parking area located just under a mile north of the Herring Cove Beach parking lot.

     It is open for tours on the first and third Saturdays of the month from June to October. Schedules are updated at their website:

Thursday, March 12, 2020

In Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - Cape Cod Bank & Trust

     In the modern world of the 21st century the connections to the past seem to disappear more and more as the days go by. Technology advances, businesses close and change hands, fads come and go, sometimes the only thing that stays the same is that things keep changing. On the Cape Cod peninsula the most frequently seen change is that of businesses opening and closing. In addition to restaurants and shops one type of business that always seems to change is that of the banking industry. Looking around the Cape these days there are few if any stalwarts that remain. Cape Cod Five and Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod are two that have made it. However there was one banking giant on the Cape that had roots as old as Cape Cod Five and did manage to make it into the 21st century. That bank was Cape Cod Bank and Trust and here is its story.

     The story of Cape Cod Bank and Trust is the story of the coming together of two Cape banking giants. On May 21, 1855 the Bank of Cape Cod was established in Harwich by Prince Crowell among others despite opposition from then-Governor Henry Gardner. Its original headquarters, a Greek-revival style building at the corners of what are today Main Street and Bank Street cost $1,915 ($56,783 in 2020). The Governor however came around on the bank when in 1861 it loaned him 10% of its capital to help the Union Army fight the Civil War. With a need for more capital due to the thriving local fishing industry the state bank became the Cape Cod National Bank of Harwich in 1865. The bank remained unchanged until 1914 when it moved into a new location across the street from the original which then became a telephone exchange and later part of the Brooks Free Library. In May 1920 the Cape Cod National Bank of Harwich was liquidated and was renamed Cape Cod Trust.

The original Cape Cod Trust building in Harwich, now part of the Brooks Free Library.
(Christopher Setterlund)

     In Hyannis in 1865 a meeting was held at the headquarters of Cape Cod Railroad treasurer Alvin Hallett. A new bank, the First National Bank of Hyannis was born there. Its first office was located on the second floor of the Daniel Crowell Building, above his shoe store, at the east end of Main Street. That building later went on to house the Hyannis Inn and later the Velvet Hammer nightclub. It opened on March 6, 1865 with Alexander Baxter as its first president. It remained in that location until 1894 when it moved into its own private headquarters. The bank went into voluntary liquidation in 1916 and was reopened as Hyannis Trust in September of that year. Its success was immediate and a new office was badly needed. A new headquarters was built on the land once occupied by a Masonic Lodge at the beginning of Main Street, opening in April 1924 at a total cost of $120,000 ($1.8 million in 2020).

     Cape Cod Trust and Hyannis Trust came together in April 1964. A merger was approved between the two by the Federal Reserve System. The two banks with their combined assets of approximately $23.5 million ($195.5 million in 2020) immediately became the largest bank on Cape Cod, more than twice the size of any other local bank. It would be known as Cape Cod Bank & Trust with the former Hyannis Trust headquarters on Main Street serving as the new bank’s main office. Ralph Farnham, the president of Hyannis Trust, was named the first head of the new bank.
CCB&T began with branches in Orleans, Osterville, and Hyannis’ West End in addition to the former headquarters of Hyannis Trust and Cape Cod Trust in Harwich. South Yarmouth got the first new branch of CCB&T in February 1965. Its most visible location at the Airport Rotary in Hyannis came soon after.

     In May 1974 a merger was approved between CCB&T and Buzzards Bay National Bank. This brought the company’s total branches to eleven and stretched their reach from Buzzards Bay to Provincetown. The increasing success of the business led to the bank’s main office on Main Street got a hug upgrade with the construction of a $1 million ($4.8 million in 2020) two-story addition to its old brick headquarters in late-1975. The building was state-of-the-art with a spacious basement employee lounge and even a garden on the roof for employee use during the warmer weather.

CCB&T Ad from 1976
(Yarmouth Register) 

     The company sought new ways to gain exposure and create revenue for itself. In 1980 CCB&T added a Money Making Hot Line for information on financial management. This was followed by their stock being traded on the NASDAQ National Market System in 1986. The CCB&T Investment Company opened in October 1992.

     At the turn of the 21st century CCB&T showed no signs of slowing. They took over several local branches of the defunct Fleet company in early 2000. Internet banking was opened in the spring of 2001. In fact 2000 was CCB&T’s best year financially with its total assets reaching $1.2 billion. CCB&T was ranked 8th out of 200 community banks in a 2001 issue of U.S. Banker magazine.

     However despite a seemingly steady climb upwards of success for CCB&T the commercial banking giant itself was swallowed up by a bigger fish. In December 2003 the company was purchased by Banknorth for $300 million, absorbing CCB&T’s twenty-six locations in Barnstable and Plymouth counties. The changeover was well underway by May 2004 with Banknorth’s name replacing CCB&T at all their locations. Banknorth at that time had more than 350 branches across New England and upstate New York. Banknorth became TD Banknorth in 2004 and finally TD Bank in 2008 after subsequent mergers.

The former CCB&T headquarters, Main Street Hyannis
(Christopher Setterlund)

     From its humble beginnings as the Bank of Cape Cod in Harwich and First National Bank of Hyannis in the mid-19th century, all the way up being a billion dollar behemoth at the dawn of the 21st century Cape Cod Bank and Trust became one of the most well known entities on Cape Cod for decades. It was born through progress and mergers and was ended through progress and mergers. CCB&T’s story truly was a full circle.

My 5th book, Cape Cod Nights, is on sale at and through Arcadia Publishing

Cape Cod Sunsets 2020 Calendar available at Zazzle here: Cape Cod Living Store

Be sure to check out my websiteChristopher