Viewing the island of Cape Cod as a flexed arm, Chatham is positioned at the elbow. It’s the southernmost of the towns along the Atlantic coast.

The white tower of Chatham Light overlooks the rugged shoreline where thousands of shipwrecks have taken place. There were originally two lighthouses called the Twin Lights so they could face in different directions, until a revolving light was constructed.

The Mayflower, carrying Pilgrims, among the earliest European settlers in North America, sailed close to this corner of the cape, looking for the Hudson River. They encountered the dangerous shoals of Pollack Rip and turned north to Cape Cod Bay, eventually landing in Plymouth.

Beyond the dunes and beach grass, a stroll along the beach brought me in sight of a strange, whimsical-looking structure. Originally believed to have started as an outhouse that was swept into the ocean during a storm. It washed up on the beach, was propped up and bolstered, and then was slowly adorned by visitors with found pieces of debris and artistic additions. Rather than a political statement of the Occupy movement, the Occupy sign was added to comment on the recent debate between the town of Chatham and officials from the Cape Cod National Seashore over who has control of South Beach.

The Godfrey Windmill, built in 1797, was used to grind corn for early settlers. It was moved to Chase park in town in the 1950s and towers over a residential neighborhood. On the other end of the park a labyrinth was constructed in 2012 to celebrate Chatham’s 300th birthday, a replica of a medieval labyrinth on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France. Not a maze problem to solve, it’s a meditative stroll, a path to follow.

Around town

Cape Cod: Yarmouth and Hyannis, Chatham, National Seashore, Provincetown, Yarmouth, Chapin sunset, Cape Cod Canal, Sandwich, Nor’easter, Falmouth, Woods Hole

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Published by rkrontheroad

Writer, photographer, traveler

38 thoughts on “Chatham

  1. It’s fascinating to ponder on new world place names where they replicate names from the settlers’ countries. Why Chatham for instance? Did someone from Chatham (England) settle there, or maybe a Chatham expat expanded the town, or did the setting remind settlers of the “original” Chatham? If ever we tour America or Australia in depth I think I’d have to keep asking that question everywhere we went!

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    1. Many of the early place names in the U.S., especially in New England (refers to the northeast region of the country) remember places that the settlers came from. There’s a mix of those and Native American indigenous names, perhaps more appropriate.

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    1. There is a similar sign at all of the beaches along the Atlantic shore. I remember worrying about shark attacks at the Jersey shore, where the beach would sometimes be closed because there were sharks sighted in the vicinity. Just like in the movie!

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  2. Interesting history and terrific photos, Ruth. Haven’t been there in decades and your post is a reminder of how quaint and scenic Cape Cod is.
    There was an article just this week in the NYT about how this area is full of great whites.😳

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  3. Chatham, and the beach look lovely. But that shark sign! Having grown up in Australia I know all about sharks in the local waters, but have not seen a sign quite like that. Not much would make me get in the water at that beach.

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  4. Had to smile at all the shark-sign comments while there are so many better aspects of this town on which to focus. We have a good friend who has been fortunate to have lived in Chatham most of her adult life, just a block from the water facing the mainland. She overlooks a yacht club which appears to be a popular place for weddings. She took us to dinner at a wonderful old social club just a short walk from her house. We didn’t see nearly as much of Chatham as you show in your photos, but I’m not surprised to see it is quaint in every respect. Not where I’d choose to live (a little too removed for my tastes) but so glad we had the chance to visit. Can’t imagine a better locale in Cape Cod, can you?

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