5 Facts You May Not Have Known About the Cape & Islands

When it comes to Cape Cod landmarks and trivia, you probably know where to find the Kennedy Compound and that the Pilgrims first landed off Provincetown. But what about lesser-known facts about Cape Cod?

For your reading pleasure, and as an educational service of sorts, we have provided a list of five completely genuine facts about the Cape and Islands for you to enjoy.

The Place Where Stars Were Made
Henry Fonda, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Gregory Peck, Ruth Gordon, and Betty White all got their start performing at shows at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis. The Cape Cod Music Circus, now the Melody Tent played host to performers such as Ginger Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Angela Lansbury, Bob Hope, Sergio Franchi, Zero Mostel, Ann Miller, Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds, and William Shatner.

That’s right, the Cape essentially gave the world Captain Kirk and the kindly older lady who voiced the teapot in Beauty and the Beast. That’s a history that we can be proud of.

Dennis and Yarmouth Were Once a Single Super-Town
Imagine Dennis and Yarmouth with a single school system or combining to host a Cape League Baseball team, seems crazy right? (that was ironic because they still do). But Dennis and Yarmouth were once, in fact, a single municipal entity called Yarmouth for 154 years until 1793, when the people of what was then known as the “East Precinct” seceded, formed an independent town, and called themselves Dennis. Bonus Fact: They named their new town Dennis in honor of their minister, Reverend Josiah Dennis.

Some Former Residents Had a Mean Streak
Shipping was once a common enterprise in the waters surrounding Cape Cod and on occasion, predominantly during inclement weather, a ship would crash off the coast and wash ashore. Now, perhaps predictably, locals would come out and steal valuables form the wreckage. Not real nice, but also not the worst thing. However, legend has it that there were also some who would, as a group, turn off all of the lights in the village to try to encourage a shipwreck, which they could then loot. Literally, doing their part to make ships sink, all so that they could pillage the stuff.

Peter Cottontail was (essentially) a Cape Codder
Most Cape residents have heard of Sandwich’s non-profit Thornton W. Burgess Society. The local conservation foundation is actually named for the guy who created America’s third most famous rabbit (Bugs, and the Easter Bunny, of course, being numbers one and two respectively). Mr. Burgess was born and raised in Sandwich where, one can only assume, he encountered the rabbit that served as the inspiration for the famous character Peter Rabbit. Bonus Fact: The society operates the Green Briar Nature Reserve off of 6A in Sandwich, a hidden gem of the Cape which is certainly worth a visit.

Brant Point Light House is 30 Years Older than the Country in which it Sits
Brant Point Lighthouse, which welcomes ships and ferries into Nantucket Harbor, is the second oldest lighthouse in North America. Island residents voted to have it constructed in 1746 and while it has undergone major reconstructive efforts following several fires it remains second only to Sambro Island Lighthouse located at the entrance to Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia in age. Also, the very first incarnation of Brant Point Light cost only 200 pounds to build and was constructed completely out of wood… which is perhaps why it burned down a short time later. Bonus Fact: With 14 lighthouses throughout the Cape, there are more lighthouses on Cape Cod than any other county in America.

By CapeCod.com Staff

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