1997 MV - FAR AWAY ISLAND visit to Martha's Vineyard
One of our first trips on our week long vacation is a two-hour cruise and visit to Nantucket. The island is just west of Martha's Vineyard, about 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. Island hopping between Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard is a great way to expand our island adventure. The Hy-Line offers the only inter-island service with seasonal daily departures from each island.
The once thriving whaling port of Nantucket island provided the inspiration for Herman Melville's "Moby Dick". Today, the population swells from 7,500 to 40,000 during the summer tourist season. Tourists visit what Native Americans called "Far Away Island" for its beaches, yachting facilities, and profusion of historic landmarks. Nantucket Island enforces one of the country's strictest building-reservation and land-use codes. Fast-food outlets, billboards, and condos are nowhere to be seen. With its wealth of shipowners' homes and miles of sandy beaches, the island remains a sought-after vacation resort.
Terri, Karen, and Dan pose next to one of the shops downtown in Nantucket.Nantucket seems apart from the rest of the country, off by itself. It is not only the physical distance that sets it apart. It's the look of the place, with cobblestone streets, shingled, weathered 18th- and 19th- century sea captain's houses, that reflect Nantucket's glory days as a rich whaling port. And it is the attitude of the fiercely protective islanders that really sets it apart.
Nantucket's Brandt Point Lighthouse, whose original structure was built in 1746, was the second lighthuse built in America. (Only Boston's Beacon Light is older.) It greets us as we enter Nantucket Harbor. The three lighthouses that guard the Island's northern tip, eastern shoreline, and harbor are reminders of a time when Nantucketers took their harvest from the sea. Brandt Point Light, plus the other two lighthouses - Great Point Light and Sankaty Head Light - all played important roles in guiding sailors home from the sea.
While on Nantucket Island we visited The First Congregational Church at 62 Centre Street. We climbed the church tower and enjoyed the panoramic views of Nantucket. We also played in the waters after walking to Brant Point and Nantucket Marine Lab on Easton Street. With interest in home self-renovation, Bob, his wife Claudia and son Sam, travel to a house he saw restored on the Boston-based home improvement show This Old House.
Standing from left to right are Terri, Dan, Bob, Tom, little Sam, Claudia, and Karen. We are in front of the Fog Island Cafe, located at 7 South Water Street. We ate lunch at Henry's Sandwich Shop on Broad Street, overlooking the Steamboat Wharf and the wharves located further south. Henry's motto is: 'The people who voted our sandwich the best on the island were obvously full of it'.
Oak Bluffs is the center of our visit this year to Martha's Vineyard. Steam vessels from New York, Providence, Boston, and Portland brought many enthusiastic tourists to the Oak Bluffs way of life in the late nineteenth century. Horse cars were used to bring vacationers from the dock to their cottages. Later the horse cars were replaced by a steam railroad that ran all the way to Katama. The railroad eventually gave way to an electric trolley from Vineyard Haven to the Oak Bluffs wharves, and the trolley gave way to the automobile.
Oaks Bluffs is the home of the Flying Horses Carousel, the oldest operating carousel in the country. This Historic Landmark is maintained by the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust. Its carved and colorful horses whirl to delightful pipe organ music. A quick walk from the carousel and toward the shore will take you to Ocean Park. It is surrounded by imaginative-looking mansions, each with a unique selection of towers, turrets, and porches with massive roofs and colored in various pastels. The Island's most famous bandstand sits in the middle of the park. During Sunday night summer concerts, children parade around its base while adults sit out on the lawn.
Across the street is the Steamship Authority's ferry terminal. The sidewalk in front runs along Seaview Avenue. It is still called 'the boardwalk', as it was at the beginning of the twentieth century.
As the sign indicates, the name of Tea Lane originated from 'local pre-revolutionary consumption of contraband tea'. The American Revolution brought hardships to the Vineyard. The people rallied to the Patriot cause and formed companies to defend their homeland. It is probable that the first naval engagement of the war occurred in April, 1775, when Nathan Smith of Tisbury mounted three small cannons on a whaleboat and sailed with a small crew across Vineyard Sound, attacking and capturing the armed British schooner Volante.
Tea Lane is located off of North Road on the way to Menemsha. Tea Lane connects with Middle Road, that runs from Chilmark to West Tisbury parallel between North Road and South Road.
While walking around Edgartown, Bob, Claudia, and their young son Sam stop near Lighthouse Beach while Bill takes a picture of them with the Edgartown Light in the background.
Accessible from North Water Street the beach offers a lovely view of the harbor. The original Edgartown Lighthouse was built in 1828, on a small man-made island in the Edgartown harbor. The first structure was replaced in 1939 by one that was rafted to the Vineyard from Ipswich, Massachusetts, after the original building was destroyed.
Going over to Chappaquiddick is a great way to spend an afternoon while on the Vineyard. Bob, Claudia, Sam, and Bill drive down Main Street in Edgartown, took a left onto North Water Street and followed it until we saw The Daggett House on the right.
From there we saw the sign for the Chappy Ferry and followed Dock Street until it was our turn to cross on the one minute ferry ride. As we crossed the Edgartown Harbor between the two islands on the 'On Time' ferry we viewed the magnificant sights all around us. We drove on the Chappaquiddick Road for about one mile and turned left onto North Neck Road.
After Bob and Bill walk down to the beach, Bob poses at the water's edge while the camera looks north over the Edgartown Harbor with Cape Poge off to our right. Plenty of fishermen were casting their lines into the waters while we walked the shoreline.
The Gay Head Lighthouse has always been perilously close to the ever-eroding cliffs. The red brick light was built in 1844 to replace a wooden tower authorized by President John Quincy Adams. In 1856, the Fresnel lens with 1,009 prisms was installed, after having been exhibited at the World's Fair in Paris. It is now preserved at the Vineyard Museum in Edgartown.
The lighthouse is maintained by the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society under a lease with the United States Coast Guard.
Many year-round residents of Aquinnah (Gay Head) are descendants of the Wampanoag Indians, who showed the colonial settlers how to kill whales and plant corn and where to find clay for the early brickyards. When the colonial settlers arrived 350 years ago, they found most of the Island's geographic features and areas had been named long since by the Indians. The Wampanoags spoke a dialect of Algonquin, one of the major Native American languages.
Our vacation home located on Chestnut Street. Regina and Dan stand on the front porch.
In the backyard of our house in Oak Bluffs, Kathy, Regina, Steve, Dan, and Tom sit at the picnic table.
Where is the food?
During a visit to Edgartown we find Karen, Michelle, Dan, Lisa, Julie, and Tom enjoying the sunny day along the water.
The photograph is gratefully provided by Laura.
And just up the road from where Music Street and the South road meet, is Alley's General Store. Under one name or another, the store has been in business 'dealing in almost everything' since 1858.
Across the street from the white spire of the West Tisbury Congregational Church is the Field Gallery. Sculpter Tom Maley's dancing figures frolic beside his art gallery.
William Arthur Atkins
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