"Is Borne The Portal To Cape Cod?"



This is a jackknife bridge at the portal to Cape Cod. There were two of them spanning the Cape Cod Canal, one in Sagamore and the other in Bourne. The jackknife bridges were replaced by the Sagamore and Bourne bridges which opened to traffic in 1935.

The jackknife bridges were demolished after the new bridges were opened to traffic and the roads that led to them are now dead-ended at the Canal's banks.

Drawbridge Over The Canal At Borne Before the Borne Bridge Was Created

Portal to Cape Cod

The present town of Bourne can claim many interesting facts about its early history although not for 200 years after the coming of the Pilgrims did it become a separate town. It was included within the limits of the town of Sandwich until the comparatively recent date of 1884.

In 1622 Governor Bradford visited the Indian village of Manomet, so called in their language, but which became corrupted into Monument, a name by which the place was long known. It is probable that the reason of the visit was partly for the purpose of establishing a short cut between Buzzards Bay and Plymouth, via the Manomet (or Monument) River.

This river, now obliterated by the Cape Cod canal, had its origin in Great Herring Pond in the Plymouth woods and flowed by a rather circuitous route into Buzzards Bay at a point near the present railroad bridge over the canal.

It was in 1627 that the colonists established a trading post on the banks of this river, the exact point being known and marked. It was on the south side of the river a short distance south of the Bourne bridge spanning the canal. This structure was built for the purpose of facilitating their intercourse with the Narragansett country, New Amsterdam (New York), and the shores of Long Island sound. By transporting their goods up the creek from Scusset harbor (Sandwich) and transferring them to what is now Bournedale by land, they reached the boatable waters of the Manomet (or Monument) river and the open waters of Buzzards Bay.

Governor Bradford says; "For our greater convenience of trade, to discharge our engagements, and to maintain ourselves, we built a small pinnace at Manomet, a place on the sea, twenty miles to the south, to which by another creek on this side, we transport our goods by water within four or five miles and then carry them overland to the vessel; thereby avoiding the compassing of Cape Cod with those dangerous shoals, and make our voyage to the southward with far less time and hazzard. For the safety of our vessel and our goods we also there built a house and keep some servants, who plant corn, raise swine, and are always ready to go out with the bark —which takes good effect and turns to advantage."

The first communication between the Plymouth colony and the Dutch at Fort Amsterdam was through this post, a portal to Cape Cod. With a ship load of sugar, linen and food stuffs, De Razier, the noted merchant, arrived at Manomet in September, 1627, and Governor Bradford sent a boat to Scusset harbor to convey him to Plymouth. There the trading was done and the first merchandising venture of New England consummated.

In 1635 a tidal wave swept over this part of the Cape on the l5th of August, destroying the trading post and partially filling the river with sand. The portal was closed for a while.

When the white men came Bourne contained other Indian hamlets beside Manomet. At the south was Pokesit (Pocasset) and still to the south was Kitteaumut {Cataumet), while to the north of all these was Comasskumkanit, the home of the Herring pond Indians.

Bourne is the first town reached when driving Capeward. After passing through Wareham from the west and nearing Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod and the town of Bourne is entered after passing over the new concrete bridge over Cohasset Narrows, the most northerly arm of Buzzards Bay. This fine concrete structure, completed last year at an expense of about a quarter of a million dollars, is really the "Portal of the Cape," although there is another way to reach it from the direction of Plymouth, also passing through the town of Bourne, the portal town.

The village of Buzzards Bay is a railroad junction point and there the Cape Cod canal makes its exit into Buzzards Bay. Thence to Bourne proper is only about a mile. Bourne, the village, is intersected by the canal and is connected by the highway bridge over the canal. There are two main highways following the course of the canal. The one on the north side follows its course most of the way, passing the village of Bournedale, thence to Sagamore, by crossing over the easterly canal bridge. The other road is on the south side of the canal and the two join at Sagamore village, where a single main road runs to the Sandwich line and the central and lower Cape.

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Sailing Yachts Race On Buzzards Bay - Mostly gaff rigged mainsails

Southerly the town extends toward Falmouth and along the line of the Woods Hole branch railroad lie the summer resort villages of Monument Beach, Pocasset and Cataumet. These resorts are popular from their sightly location along the shores of Buzzards Bay. The views are entrancing, the waters of the bay are suitable for warm sea bathing and boating is here a sport that is at its best. Back of these villages lie woodlands extending easterly to Sandwich and Mashpee.

Among the pioneers of Bourne are recognized Ebenezer Nye, John Smith, Elisha Bourne, John Gibbs, Jr., Benjamin Gibbs and others who followed them. The land was purchased (stolen?)from the Indians and permanent homes were early established there.

In 1717 a unique proposal was made in the General Court for the assessment of the towns on the Cape for the building and maintenance of a fence from Peaked Hill cliffs on the Massachusetts bay side to the head waters of Buzzards bay on the other side, to keep the wolves of Plymouth county from invading Barnstable county where they destroyed sheep and caused other destruction. Had the project gone through it would have been a practical fencing off of the entire Cape from the rest of the continent.

Probably the thing of greatest interest to tourists today in the town of Bourne is the Cape Cod canal. It completely bisects the town along its eight mile course through the land and is of never failing interest to all strangers. Traffic passing through, consisting of tugs towing barges, colliers, of large and small tonnage, freight boats and occasional government craft can be seen at close view from the highways on either side and from the bridges that span the canal. The opening and closing of the two huge jack-knife bridges is seldom without interested spectators during daylight hours.

At night the canal is brilliantly lighted along its banks and the passage through of the big New York boat is a sight that attracts a great many people. The value of the canal to the system of national defense was demonstrated during the war and a bill is now before Congress for the purchase of it and for its operation by the war department. Probabilities point to much greater development under government ownership when it will probably be widened and deepened and there is a possibility that locks will be installed to regulate the rushing current that now more or less hampers navigation.

The people of Bourne foresee advantages to their town through these contemplated developments and hope for the establishment of a landing place which will provide terminal facilities for steamers handling passengers and freight, making Borne a true portal.

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Aside from its extensive summer business along the shores of Buzzards bay and its popular colony at Sagamore Beach on Cape Cod bay, Bourne has comparatively little commercial activity. One large manufacturing plant exists at Sagamore where the Keith Car and Manufacturing Company is located and gives employment to a large number of men. There freight cars are built and repaired under the management of Eben S.S. Keith, a former member of the Governor's council and one of the leading citizens of the Cape.



What is a portal. It's an entrance to something, like a door.

Bourne enjoys the distinction of being a former summer capital of the country. When Grover Cleveland was president of the United States he established his summer home at Gray Gables, near Buzzards Bay village, and there was transacted the government's business during his stay there. Gray Gables is still owned by his widow although it is no longer occupied by her. There is a ledge in Buzzard's Bay named for him - Cleveland Ledge. It has a light house built upon the ledge to warn martime traffic passing by on its way to the Cape Cod Canal. Another portal.

Another distinguished resident of Bourne was the late Joseph Jefferson, the veteran actor, whose palatial residence "Crows' Nest" on Buttermilk bay was one of the show places of the section. In a little cemetery, just over the town line in Sandwich his body now reposes, marked with a huge bowlder which he picked out during his life time to mark his grave. Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Jefferson were close and intimate friends and companions upon fishing trips about Cape Cod territory.

Bourne, not "that bourne from whence no traveller returns," but Bourne, the "Portal to Cape Cod," is a large and interesting portal town. Within its limits abide many summer residents, occupying large and small cottages and estates of refinement and beauty. It has many drives of sylvan beauty, through shaded roads, by emerald ponds, and over hills and through vales, commanding views of placid and glimmering Buzzards bay and the broad reaches of Cape Cod bay on its northerly side. Like other Cape Cod towns, it has a history of maritime adventure behind it and a glorious future as a summer resting place before it. The possibilities of its portal shores have scarcely begun to be developed.

We need not admonish all who visit Cape Cod to "see Bourne" for those who visit the Cape cannot possibly escape it unless they come by boat or flying machine, it's the portal to Cape Cod. In order to reach the Cape, Bourne must necessarily be encountered and those who tarry there will find the time well spent in this portal by the bay.



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Troops waving flag and preparing to fire ancient cannon

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