Narragansett, RI to Sagamore Beach, MA
Sagamore Beach, MA - Events of Tuesday, September 10, 2013
On Tuesday morning, we had another short travel day of about two hours to our next destination in Sagamore Beach, MA. As we said previously, we are jumping around a little on some of these short travel days so we could get reservations at the campgrounds we wanted and so we could avoid Cape Cod on or before the Labor Day weekend. Now that it's after Labor Day, we'll be visiting Cape Cod from Sagamore Beach.
We pulled into Scusset Beach Reservation shortly after noon. Reservation is what Massachusetts calls its state parks. Scusset Beach Reservation has a handful of no-hookup tent sites and about 100 RV sites with water and electric only. The electrical pedestals, which have two 30-amp receptacles, are shared between two sites. Water hookups, which have up to four spigots, are shared by up to four sites. Some of the water hookups are pretty far from the RV pads, so you may need a an extra length or two of hose because the sites are pretty big. All the RV sites are back-ins.
The roads and pads at Scusset Beach Reservation are paved, the patios are gravel, and there is grass between the sites. There are also bushes and trees between some of the sites. There is no Wi-Fi, but we had a pretty strong Verizon 4G signal. Our cost including the reservation fee was about $23 a night.
The photo below was taken looking down the road past our site. There are several sites on each side that are hidden by the trees.
There are also some sites that are more out in the open.
Scusset Beach Reservation includes almost half a mile of swimming beach along Cape Cod Bay. The beach is open to campers and to the general public. Since it was after Labor Day when we were there, the beach was pretty deserted, especially during the week.
The reservation also has about a 1½-mile long frontage along the Cape Cod Canal. The canal cuts through Cape Cod and connects Cape Cod Bay to the north with Buzzards Bay to the south. It generally follows a couple of tidal rivers that were widened, deepened and connected together to create a ship channel.
The canal has a service road that, as far as we can tell, runs its entire 7.4-mile length. In fact, there is a road on both sides of the canal that are used as hiking/biking trails. The one on the side of the canal where we were staying is accessible from the campground. We took a walk down to the canal to have a look.
The town of Sandwich is on the other side of the canal. In Sandwich, the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the canal, has a visitor center. We stopped in to learn a little more about the canal's history on one of our outings.
Miles Standish, who was the military advisor to the Pilgrims who landed in Plymouth in 1620, envisioned a canal through Cape Cod as early as 1623 as a way to facilitate trade between the Pilgrims in Plymouth and the Dutch colony in New York. There were several surveys, and even a few early attempts to build a canal, but construction didn't begin in earnest until 1909.
There was a lot of difficulty building the canal because of massive boulders left by the retreating glaciers following the Ice Age. Divers were hired to dynamite the boulders, but that slowed dredging. Crews also had to stop digging to wait out cold winters.
The canal was opened to ships with less than a 15-foot draft 1914. Work on the toll waterway was finally completed in 1916 when a depth of 25 feet was achieved. The canal was 100 feet wide. Its completion reduced the travel distance between Boston and New York by 62 miles and eliminated the necessity of navigating the notoriously dangerous shoals around Cape Cod. Users from locations inside the hook of Cape Cod can save even more travel distance - up to 135 miles.
Unfortunately, the narrow width and tricky, tidal currents through the canal caused many navigational problems and frequent accidents. Because of all the accidents and the high tolls, many ships resumed taking the longer route around the end of Cape Cod.
In the 1920s, the United States Government purchased the canal, widened it to 480 feet, deepened it to 32 feet and eliminated the tolls. Today, there are about 20,000 users of the canal a year. That includes pleasure boats, fishing boats and cargo ships carrying 10 million tons of cargo.
The visitor center had a good video on the building of the canal and plenty of old photos. You can also see live radar and live video from several locations along the canal. They also have the 40-foot, retired patrol boat Renier on display. The Renier patrolled the canal for 25 years enforcing regulations and rendering assistance to vessels in distress.
As we said, our plan was to visit Cape Cod from where we were staying at Scusset Beach Reservation. We have other plans as well, so stay tuned.