Friday, March 23, 2012

Historical Locations - Cape Cod

Fort Hill in Eastham is one of the most beautiful and tranquil sites on Cape Cod. It overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and is part of the great Nauset Marsh. It's a special place for shell fishing, canoeing, kayaking, birdwatching or greeting the day with a cup of coffee as you watch the sun rise.

According to local historians Fort Hill never had a real physical fort.  When England directed the early colonists to protect themselves from attacks by sea, strategic hills were designated as unique vantage points and one of these natural geological formations became known as Fort Hill. It's name became part of the colonists vocabulary.

Before you reach the top parking lot of Fort Hill, in an open field on your left, you will see a stone marker with a carved 'T' on its face.

This 'T' represents the northern boundary of Reverend Samuel Treats property. In my last blog entry I talk about Reverend Treat and his ministry from 1676-1716 for the early settlers and the Native Americans or 'Praying Indians' of Eastham.

If you follow the trails along the edges of the marshes north and into the woods towards Skiff Hill, there is a pavilion highlighting the famous Indian Rock or 'sharpening rock'. Besides giving you a majestic view all the way to Coast Guard Beach, you can touch a piece of history from the 1600s.

On the surface of this 20 ton boulder are grooves and long marks that the Native Americans used to make tools, sharpen them and also smooth their beads for decoration.

 This huge boulder was actually found below on the beach and was brought up to this viewing place in 1965.

As you leave Fort Hill, drive one more street east on Route 6. Here you will find Hemenway Landing. It's a close-up view of the Nauset marsh and offers a nice walk on the beach beneath the overlook and the sharpening rock.

Fort Hill and the sharpening rock was of particular interest to me as I developed the character Minda, an Indian Pow Wah or medicine woman, in my historical novel The Old Cape House.  When Minda travels to the shoreline in search of clams and sea lettuce, she walks around Reverend Treat's property and past her village's sharpening stone. At the water's edge beneath the high hill, she sees the young girl Maria Hallett.  It was here that Maria tells her good friend that she may be with child.

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