Seining FIsh Provincetown Massachusetts
This antique Provincetown postcard is entitled “Seining Fish” and was published by the Provincetown Advocate in the late 19th century. The American Indians used weirs, stationary nets to capture fish and fishing weirs were still a common sight in parts of Cape Cod Bay in the 20th century. But another fishing technique, popular in the 19th century as depicted in this antique Provincetown postcard, was seine fishing. Seine fishing uses nets that are hung vertically in the water, set in place to catch a school of fish and then removed. The bottom edge of the net is held down by weights while the top of the net edge is held aloft by floats. Purse seine fishing uses rings on the edges of the nets to gather the net together like a purse. That’s where it gets its name—purse seine.
Names can be very descriptive. What is the significance of the name of the novel, Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook? Who is remaining? Is it the murder victim or is it the characters who have chosen the town as their home and have chosen to stay? Want to learn more? Read the murder mystery available at your local bookstore or online as a trade paperback or ebook. Like us on Facebook
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The Blessing of the Fleet in Provincetown, that takes place each year on the last Sunday in June, is a tradition that originated in Mediterranean fishing communities. With its large Portuguese community of fishermen who were the economic backbone of the community during the late 19th and 20th century, it”s surprising that it wasn’t”t until 1948 that the. Blessing of the Fleet tradition was brought to Provincetown. A Catholic mass and the blessing of a priest to ask God for a safe fishing season and a bountiful one is further celebrated with a parade, performances, games, and festivities, After the boats are blessed from the end of Macmillan wharf, where they line up bedecked with banners and flags, the fishermen and families celebrate with a picnic lunch on their vessel and a trip to Long Point, often going for a swim on a hot day and perhaps enjoying quite a bit of beer and wine.
While the Blessing of the Fleet is now combined with the four day Portuguese Festival, in earlier times the festivities was more focused to serve the community of fishermen and their friends and families, In the new mystery novel Remaining in Provincetown, a pivotal event takes place in Sarah Carreiro”s life at a Blessing of the Fleet, that she reflects on as she returns to town to bury her husband who has been murdered. What happened? Read the book, currently available for sale at bookstores, including the Provincetown Bookshop and online at Amazon in trade paperback and on Kindle. Like us on Facebook. Keep the conversation going.
Fishing Boats at Provinetown, Cape Cod Mass. circa 1900
This handsome antique postcard showing Long Point Lighthouse in Provincetown Massachusetts on the tip of Cape Cod shows houses set back beyond a lighthouse keeper’s building and the lighthouse itself. If you hike across the Provincetown breakwater on the west end of town, just beyond the Provincetown Inn and hike across the sand or visit Long Point by boat, you won’t see any such buildings. The fishing village first settled in 1818, was at its height of prosperity in 1846. There were 200 residents and 38 houses. They used cisterns to gather water and had their own salt works for fish processing. The lighthouse itself was established in 1826 and the current tower built in 1875. Automated in 1952 and currently solar powered, it shines a fixed green signal and blasts out a fog alert every 15 seconds.
So what happened to the village of Long Point and all those houses? Most of them were floated across the bay during low tide on barrels and repositioned in Provincetown. Ceramic blue and white plaques identify some of the houses in town that were floated across the bay from Long Point.
There are many interesting stories about the town and if you were born in the town or have lived and worked in Provincetown for a number of years you learn thiings.. Curious to learn more? Read Remaining in Provincetown, the new mystery novel just released and available at bookstores, including the Provincetown Bookshop, and online in trade paperback and as an ebook at Amazon. Like us on Facebook and keep the conversation going.
Finback Whale on Provincetown beach one of the largest ever taken.
The Finback whale shown in this antique postcard which was mailed in 1918, at first glance looks as if it beached on the Provincetown shore. But on closer examination, and from reading the caption on the photograph, the sad truth is this whale was hunted and killed for its blubber oil. Currently an endangered species, the Finback is the second largest animal in the world. (The Blue Whale is the largest) It has been described by naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews as “the greyhound of the sea”. Since the mid 1980’s whale watching has become a way for visitors to Cape Cod to observe these handsome mammals. Often sighted in the waters on the tip of Cape Cod are primarily Humpback Whales as well as a few Finback Whales.
This particular whale in the vintage postcard above was killed by Captain Joshua Nickerson while at the command of the steamer the A.B. Nickerson. It was one of the largest of the Finback species ever taken in Provincetown and measured 65 feet and 4 inches in length and weighed 136 tons. According to the book Provincetown written by Herman Atwell Jennings, “in 1886 the steamer and a facility for processing whales was built at Herring Cove near the Race Point Lighthouse and in 1889 a wharf was extended from shore four hundred feet to enable the factory steamer to bring the whales and other fish alongside to be handled.” A number of the streets in Provincetown have the names of the early families that include Nickerson, Snow, and Dyer. Small towns have their secrets. Want to gain a more intimate sense of the town and its inhabitants? You’ll want to read the new novel Remaining in Provincetown, now available at Amazon.com. Like us on Facebook and you may win a FREE copy.
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Provincetown, Cape Cod
Railroad Station 1920
Wouldn’t it be nice to take a train to Provincetown? The last train that provided service to Cape Cod as far as Hyannis, shut down operations in 1986. Yet the railroad was an important mode of transportation to Provincetown businesses, residents and tourists 100 years ago. It was by train that the fresh fish caught by Provincetown fisherman packed in ice was delivered directly to New York City and it was by train that summer tourists and weekend visitors from Boston and New Bedford could conveniently get to Cape Cod vacation resorts and beaches.
As recently as 1960, the freight train was still running all the way down to the end of Cape Cod. When you visit Provincetown and go for walks along the trails, you can walk along the old railroad track bed. The railroad ties left behind when the tracks were removed and have been put to other practical uses by local folk in gardens and landscaping projects, but if you close your eyes you can imagine the sounds of the train chugging through the woods.
The railroad station shown in the 1920 vintage postcard above, was located on Bradford Street in the center of town between Alden and Standish Streets. It opened in 1873 and shut down in 1938. Initially operating as part of the Old Colony Railroad, the New Haven Railroad served the community from 1893 to 1960.
These days, you can get to Provincetown by airplane, car, bus, and boat. Sarah Carreiro (a character in Remaining in Provincetown) takes the small plane from Boston to come back to Provincetown for her husband’s funeral. Looking down from a small plane is a great way to see the unique geography of the Outer Cape, but that’s another story.
Provincetown, Massachusetts Breakwater built in 1911
The breakwater that spans across from the end of Cape Cod’s hook across the Bay to the little spit of land known as Long Point has been in place as long as anyone can remember. But there was a time when it was referred to as “The New Government Breakwater” as it is on this postcard. Walk across the breakwater and you’ll arrive at Long Point and the Long Point Lighthouse. Built by the Arm Corp of Engineers and completed in 1911, the intent of the breakwater was to secure the safety of the harbor and prevent the erosion of sand. Take a walk on the breakwater and arrive at the Long Point Lighthouse or practice your skills climbing the rocks. It used to be a great place to gather mussels to steam for dinner, along with hermit crabs and starfish. Still the sand around the breakwater moves and splits as the decades pass. Life changes . People die. Others leave and new residents arrive and decide to remain in Provincetown. Thus the name of the novel Remaining in Provincetown, a mystery not only about a murder but about the town itself.
A 270 lb. Halibut caught in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
It’s been a long time since Halibut have been commercially fished off Cape Cod. This old postcard photo must have been taken in the last decade of the 19th century! Halibut supported important commercial fisheries from the early 1800s to the 1880’s but was severely over fished in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Thus you are unlikely to catch any Halibut off Cape Cod or Provincetown and if you do, there is a bycatch limit of one fish per trip and the fish must be at least 36 inches in length.
Halibut is the largest species of flatfish found in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. Maybe one day, if the population is allowed to increase enough to create a thriving population, sports fisherman will once again be holding up a large Halibut they’ve caught for a photo opportunity.
Currently if you go out on a fishing charter boat from Provincetown harbor, depending on the season you will be fishing for Striped bass, Blue fish, Fluke, Codfish, or Blue fin tuna.
The love of fishing is pervasive and remains in Provincetown.