Charting the Past

Heroes in the storm

Heroes in the storm

Before the Portland Gale swept in on Nov. 26, 1898, there was disagreement whether this would be a significant storm. Some chose to risk it, such as the captain of the ill-fated Portland with 192 passengers.  Others took a more precautionary approach, such as Tony King’s captain. That decision meant King, a doryman from Provincetown, was available to help others when the storm hit.
Stephan Cohen knows King’s story because he has been doing research on three historic villages of Provincetown — Long Point, Race Point and Helltown, located at Herring Cove. “What I found really interesting was there were three villages that weren’t part of the main town proper,” Cohen said. “Naturally that led to an interest in the kind of fishing that was going on and the kind of boats that were going out.”

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Provincetown fishermen’s monument effort is reborn

Provincetown fishermen’s monument effort is reborn

A monument to honor Provincetown and Truro fishermen who lost their lives at sea has been talked about for decades.
“For 47 years. The idea was conceived by Carol Peters, the daughter of a fisherman, in 1976 after the sinking of my father’s boat, the Patricia Marie,” said Lisa King. “It has stalled.”
King, who has the energy of a coiled spring, is determined to make sure the monument happens, and soon. She brought together about a dozen people and created the Fishermen’s Memorial Foundation, which she chairs, because she feels this may be the last chance.

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The Wellfleet Oyster: An Excerpted History

The Wellfleet Oyster: An Excerpted History

Diamond Jim Brady once spat out an oyster served him at New York’s Delmonico’s restaurant. “That’s not a Wellfleet oyster!” exclaimed the Gilded Age gourmand.

Discriminating diners have long prized the Wellfleet oyster for the flavor that comes from the salty, plankton-rich seawater it ingests: Plump and clean, the Wellfleet oyster has a briny sweetness with an undertone of seaweed.

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Smokestacks Come to Yarmouth

Smokestacks Come to Yarmouth

By Haynes Mahoney

When it first came to life in March, 1917, the 100-foot stack belching plumes of smoke from its coal-fired engines, buckets of fish rising to freezers in the five-story building, it must have been an incredible disruption to the quiet marshside world of Yarmouth Port at the end of Wharf Lane.  The local stockholders hoped the Bay State Freezer Company, Inc. would bring them riches.

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Tales of Old Harbor

Tales of Old Harbor

Matthew Griffin heard a lot of fishing stories growing up, after all his grandfather, dad and several uncles were commercial fishermen.

“Who doesn’t love a story?” he asked. “Even if you have heard it more than once, and you envy those who are hearing it for the first time.”

That love, in Griffin’s case, was fanned by his grandfather Alexander “Allie” Griffin’s gift as a raconteur and his subject — fishing and Chatham, the town that turned toward the sea.  

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U-boat sent fishing vessels to the bottom of the sea

U-boat sent fishing vessels to the bottom of the sea

Nine fishing schooners were sunk by a submarine on Aug. 10 (1918) on the southeast part of Georges Bank about 160 miles from Cape Cod. Although about 20 dories were sent scurrying about in the ocean as the U-boat sent vessel after vessel to the bottom, there were no casualties, as far as can be learned. Weather was reasonably calm and inside of 36 hours all dories had been picked up by other vessels and their occupants brought safely to shore.

Captain Lynch, lately skipper of the Anastasia E. told the story to a reporter the other day as breakfast was cooking at his home, 81 Summer Street. A modest man of few words, he nevertheless, injected a wealth of drama into the yarn, while leaving much to be filled in by the imagination. Listen to him:

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When the Cape fishing industry was worth its salt

When the Cape fishing industry was worth its salt

With all our modern emphasis on developing wind and solar power, and all the controversy about what offshore turbines might mean for commercial fishing, it’s worth remembering that both innovations harken back centuries, and served as crucial support for Cape Cod’s dominant, historic industry.

As proof, witness Cape Cod saltworks.

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Nickerson’s memories for his grandchildren become a historical gift

Nickerson’s memories for his grandchildren become a historical gift

Although not fond of snakes, Joseph Nickerson spent several summers catching eels in eel pots and selling them to a company owned by a couple of really well-dressed brothers who came down from Gloucester every other week and transfered the harvest from eel car to tank truck.

“They looked like two guys getting out of the truck in tuxes,” he said. “They were first class.”

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The history of the fleet in portraits

The history of the fleet in portraits

In the 1980s, Alex Brown was in the East End of Provincetown when he met a fellow who, finding out Brown was a fisherman, started talking. The man’s name was Steve Kennedy.

Brown asked him if he was any relation to the noted photographer and painter of the same name. Brown said he had an oil painting by Kennedy of the well-known Provincetown fishing dragger Barracuda – she had a red, toothy mouth painted on her green hull – hanging in his living room. 

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