I’ve posted quite a few photographs of Cape Cod sand dunes from vintage postcards. This is the first in black and white. The postcard was printed during the era when it only cost a penny to mail a postcard and have it delivered anywhere in the United States. Notice all the beach grass and vegetation growing on these sand dunes at the end of the 19th century. When the National Seashore took possession of acres of seashore on Cape Cod, which included sand dunes, during the last three decades of the 20th century they grappled with erosion. Much of the natural vegetation had been destroyed by tourists eagerly dragging coolers, umbrellas, and beach towels to set up their spot for relaxing by the water’s edge. And then there were all the children exuberantly running and sliding down sand dunes. Temporary fences were erected and new dune grass was planted. While once there was a parking area by Pilgrim Lake on the way into Provincetown for tourists to stop and walk the dunes, that parking area was closed and blocked off. Why? Just too many people causing the vegetation to become damaged and rampant erosion taking place. The wind blows hard and the sands shift and change. So it is with stories and tales of Cape Cod and Provincetown. Read any Provincetown books lately which capture the flavor of what it’s like to live in the town? Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook is awaiting your reading pleasure. Available in bookstores and online as a trade paperback or ebook. Like us on Facebook. Keep the conversation going.
Before there was a National Seashore, four wheel drive vehicles could traverse the sand dunes at the tip of Cape Cod, traveling back and forth to visit dune shacks and go fishing. Tourists would pull over to the side of the highway and get out of their cars to run up and down the dunes as they approached Provincetown. This postcard from the 1960s shows a Dune buggy tour on the sand dune above Pilgrim Lake, which you see as you approach Provincetown from Truro. Initially the National Seashore built a parking lot near Pilgrim Lake to provide a safe spot for visitors to park but quickly realized all the erosion damage taking place and closed the area. Dune grass has been extensively planted to help prevent more loss of the dunes. In 1946 Art Costa started Art’s Dune Tours and his son Bob Costa has continued the tradition of providing interesting educational tours that explain some of the historic highlights of the sand dunes that span from the back side of the town out to Race Point and the Outer Shore. You can walk the across the dunes by taking the path at Snail Road and hiking across the sand or you can enjoy the bicycle trails that cross the sand dunes as the Carreiro children do in the soon-to-be released mystery novel Remaining in Provincetown.