To Provincetown

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006 | All Things, Family, Travel

After a breakfast at Hearth ‘n Kettle — or “H ‘n K,” as I see them refer to themselves on occasion — we set out for a leisurely drive up Route 6 to Provincetown. On the way we made several stops to visit the old familiar sights (and a couple of yard sales.) Here, the iconic Nauset Lighthouse (and adjacent privately owned lightkeeper’s house) in Eastham, instantly recognizable from its countless postcards, calendars and potato chip bags. This 48-foot cast iron structure was built in 1877 and painted its distinctive red and white in 1940. The lighthouse was originally set in Chatham, high on a cliff over Nauset Beach, but steady erosion forced its move farther inland in 1923, where it replaced the last remaining of “The Three Sisters” lights at the Nauset Light Station. By the early 1990s, the lighhouse was in danger of falling into the sea yet again after decades more of erosion brought the coastline precariously close to its edge. After a groundwell of public support formed to preserve the structure, the Nauset Lighthouse was relocated over two days in November 1996 to the site 200 feet from the cliff edge, where it sits today. At the time of the move, just 35 feet separated the lighthouse from the water.

Nauset Lighthouse

These identical 15-foot tall lighthouses date from 1892 when they served as a trio, guiding ships from a bluff over Nauset Beach. When the Bureau of Lighthouses opted for a more efficient single lighthouse formation in 1911, the two defunct sisters were taken out of service and sold to a private family in 1918 for $3.50, who incorporated the lighthouses into their summer cottage. By 1923, the remaining sister was replaced by the red-striped Nauset Lighthouse above (though it was all white at the time), also passing into private owndership. In 1975, all three sisters were purchased by the National Park Service, who reunited them in their original configuration on Cable Road about 1,800 feet from Nauset Lighthouse in 1989.

Pictured here are two of “The Three Sisters,” only one of which still has a light atop.

Three Sisters

En route to Provincetown, we passed the Wellfleet Drive-in Theatre. The last drive-in on Cape Cod, it is open seasonally from mid-May to mid-October (like the much of the Cape,) and has been in continuous operation since the 1957.

As of June, there are 406 surviving drive-in theaters in the United States — five in Massachusetts. I still have yet to experience this rapidly disappearing bit of Americana. Too bad I have no interest in seeing Barnyard and I’ve already seen Talladega Nights (the day I visited an entirely different Lighthouse in NYC…)

Provincetown photos. This one reminds me of the last — and only — cruise my family took all together, just before the first of the weddings. Our last night in the Caribbean, J purchased five sailor-hatted or begoggled rubber ducks from the ship’s giftshop and left one on each of our pillows to find at bedtime. I still have mine.


Lobster Pot

Malassadas from the Portuguese Bakery on Commercial Street — the bustling main artery of P-town. The bakery has been around forever, but I only discovered the tasty treats a few years ago… and have bought them every time I’ve been in Provincetown since. These fried dough fritters — think: giant zeppoles, down to to the generous sprinkling of powdered sugar — originate from Portugal’s Azores (A├žores) islands.


The Pilgrim Monument (right), symbol of Provincetown, and the tallest all-granite structure in the United States. On a clear day (which today certainly was not) it’s said that you can see Boston’s skyscrapers from the top of the 252-foot tower. It was built between 1907 and 1910 to commemorate the first landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims in Provincetown on November 21, 1620.

Commercial Street

Starfish and Porcupinefish for sale at the Marine Specialties store:

PTown Starfish

John’s Foot Long on the pier:

PTown Johns

Provincetown Theatre

A typical Provincetown scene:


There are 2 Comments ... To Provincetown

September 3, 2006

Is that the Hopper lighthouse?

September 3, 2006

Nope: that one is in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Go for it ...