Cape Cod’s Bass River Light

Bass River Light

By Mary Moran

Bass River light, also known as the West Dennis Light, is located on the eastern side of Bass River in the Cape Cod town of Dennis. Dennis sits next to the waters of Nantucket Sound. Dennis became a prosperous fishing town in the 19th century. At that time there was a salt works right in the center of town and a variety of facilities for the construction of small boats. Before the lighthouse was built, a local man by the name of Warren Crowell created his own “lighthouse” to help captains navigate the area. He did this by placing a lamp in the attic window of his home. Local captains would donate money to Crowell on a monthly basis to help provide funds for the cost of the oil that kept the lamp burning. Eventually, it was decided that the small lamp in Crowell’s attic was no longer sufficient to guide vessels safely, because the  traffic in the local waters had begun to increase significantly. In 1854, the land was purchased for a real lighthouse and on April 30, 1855, the Bass River Light went into service. The Bass River Light’s lantern was placed on top of the newly built, two-story keeper’s house. The structure was 44 feet tall and displayed a continuous white light out of its fifth-order Fresnel lens. The person assigned to the duty of being the first lighthouse keeper was none other than Warren Crowell himself. He remained at his post until 1863, when he went to fight in the Civil War. In combat, he was taken prisoner in Virginia after being injured and finally returned to the lighthouse in the 1870’s. Unfortunately, need for the lighthouse decreased after both the opening of the Cape Cod Canal and the placement of an automatic light on the west side of Bass River. The Bass River light was ultimately deemed unnecessary and was put out on June 15, 1914. After the light was dark at Bass River, the property was sold at auction to a Mr. Harry K. Noyes. Noyes used the keeper’s house as a seasonal home and expanded the property greatly. Then, in 1938, the property was purchased by State Senator Everett Stone and his wife Gladys. The couple decided to turn the home into an Inn where they could entertain friends, family and vacationers alike. Guests could rent a room for a night or two. One night’s stay at the Inn, including all meals, was only $5 dollars! As the years went on, the business continued to grow. To this day the Stone family owns the Bass River Lighthouse and its property. It is now a fully functioning Inn and restaurant. It is open seasonally from spring to fall with a large summer staff of around ninety employees. The Stone family also took the initiative to relight the famous lighthouse in 1989. Each year, from August 7th – National Lighthouse Day, you can still see the flashing white light shining from the 300 mm optic lens in the Bass River tower. It serves as a seasonal aid to navigation. This charming lighthouse and restaurant is about an hour’s drive east of  the Palmer House Inn.

 


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of adventures on Cape Cod, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs for a relaxing stay before and after your day.


Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgeable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available  to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.

Oysters on Cape Cod, Part 2

Quarterdeck's Oysters

Part II Preparing and Enjoying Oysters.

C Salt's Oysters
Oyster selection at C Salt restaurant in Falmouth.

Opening the oyster shell is called shucking. Some Cape Codders believe that the correct method of shucking is to insert a shucking tool or knife into the side of the shell, however, most of us think that it is easier to go in at the hinge. In the end it is what ever works for you. All of the oyster shuckers that I have seen wear heavy leather gloves. It is easy for the sharp tool to slip.

Some diners enjoy their oysters raw while others like them fried or prepared in recipes. Whether they are consumed raw or cooked the diner will be getting the same nutritional value. That said, the raw preparation, does deliver higher levels of the nutrients. Oysters contain high levels of protein, zinc and selenium. It is a food that is known to strengthen the immune system.

There are several ways to eat raw oysters:

  • Some slowly slurp them directly from the shell while others give them a quick chew.
  • Others flavor them with cocktail sauce and lemon.
  • Still others enjoy them with a shot of vodka or tequila.
  • There are even those who savor them with a wine or champagne chaser.

These methods are all perfectly acceptable and developing your own unique style is half of the fun.

The next part of this article will tell you where to get this wonderful delicacy. The answer is, right here in Falmouth by the Sea. Some of the best restaurants for oyster dining are: La Cucina sul Mare, C Salt, Quarterdeck, TGC Grill and last but by no means least, the appropriately named Shuckers.

Quarterdeck's Oysters
This is the Quarterdeck’s presentation of “Oysters on the Half Shell”. The variety at the top of the photo is from Barnstable: it is sweet with firm meat. The larger one at the right is from Washburn Island: its meat is creamy and has a fresh finish. The oyster at the left is from Dunbury and has very briny plump meat and a sweet buttery finish. Yes, a fine oyster is very much like a fine wine. Enjoy!

When I am enjoying oysters on the half shell at home, I like to make my own sauce.

Pat’s Oyster Sauce

Yield is about 1/3 of a cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of oysters
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 8 teaspoons of soy sauce

Directions:

  • chop oysters
  • in a sauce pan, simmer oysters with their liquid for 20 minutes
  • strain liquid and discard oysters pieces
  • continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced to 5 teaspoons
  • combine the remainder of the ingredients, chill and enjoy with your favorite oysters.

If you enjoy oysters, an oyster lover’s heaven can be found at the “Wellfleet Oysterfest”.  In October of this year it will be on the 19th and 20th from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. each day.

For more information go to  www.wellfleetoysterfest.org


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of adventures sampling Cape Cod’s finest seafood, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs for a relaxing stay before and after your day.

Cape Poge Light Station

Cape Poge Light Station – Martha’s Vineyard

By Mary Moran

An island located east of Martha’s Vineyard, named Chappaquiddick, is home to the Cape Poge (or “Pogue”) light station. In 1801, Congress appropriated $2,000. in order to construct the lighthouse at the northeast tip of the island to help make a safe entrance for ships into the nearby harbor. The light house was needed because fishing and whaling was increasing in the surrounding waters and traffic had increased greatly. A four acre property was chosen for the station and in November of the same year, The Cape Poge light would officially go into service as an active aid for navigation. The lighthouse stood 35 feet tall and was octagonal in shape. A small keeper’s home, consisting of only two rooms, was also built on the property. Both structures were constructed of wood and the fixed white light of Cape Poge shone approximately 55 feet above the mean water level on the island. The first light-keeper, Matthew Mayhew, was appointed by Thomas Jefferson himself. He made a yearly salary of two hundred dollars while at his post.

In 1825, it was reported that approximately two out of the four acres of the Cape Poge property had been lost to erosion. Subsequently, the keeper’s house was moved back, away from the shore. With erosion being a never-ending threat, the lighthouse and house would endure multiple movements and upgrades in the years to come. After the tower’s first push back from the waters in 1838, it was decided six years later that the structure needed to be rebuilt. Winslow Lewis reported, in 1844, that the tower “was rotten from base to roof.” He took on the endeavor and erected a new wooden structure with all new lighting equipment totaling $1,600. Lewis would continue updating the structure in 1857. At that time, he replacing the lighting equipment with a fourth-order Fresnel lens and placed it into a new, freshly installed lantern.

Nearly 21 years later, in 1878, the keeper’s home was once again in danger of being engulfed by the always hungry sea. The house was replaced in 1880 by a much larger structure, due to the need of also housing an assistant keeper. Following in the new house’s footsteps, a new wooden lighthouse was built in 1893. Although this structure was only meant to be a temporary fix, it is still standing to this day.

Since 1907, Cape Poge light has been moved an additional four times to evade water damage and devastation from the sea. Erosion has proven to be the constant and inevitable struggle for this light, and will continue to be for the duration of this historical structure’s existence.

As technology advanced, so did the lighthouse. In 1943, the light was fully automated, leaving no need for a keeper or an assistant. Both were let go from their duties. The keeper’s house was sold privately in 1954 and it was subsequently demolished for the use of its lumber. In recent years, more drastic moves were taken in protecting the life-saving light. In 1986 lifted by an army helicopter in 1987, the lighthouse was moved another 500 feet from the shore’s edge. In October of 1997, the entire lantern was taken back to Falmouth, then transported to New Bedford, where it was completely restored and repainted. After its return to the island, the Cape Poge lighthouse went back into service and remains an active navigational aid to this day. Although the location of the lighthouse remains extremely remote to the public, records show the beautiful old structure has thousands of visitors a year. The property is managed by the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge and amazing 90-minute tours are offered in-season by the Trustees of Reservations. To reach the light, there is a connecting barrier beach from the Dike Bridge in Edgartown that requires either a 3.5 mile hike, or with a proper permit, it is also 4-wheel drive accessible. The road may be closed at times, however, due to erosion and flooding. Most visitors access the island by use of the small “On Time” ferry, also out of Edgartown. To make tour reservations, call 508.627.3599.


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of  Cape Cod adventures, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs for a relaxing stay before and after your day.


Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available  to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.