Fort Hill, Eastham MA

Fort Hill 1

Since I’m currently plotting my next big travel move I’ll be home through the summer, this means you’ll be treated to in depth explorations of Cape Cod.   This past week I decided to explore Fort Hill in Eastham.

Fort Hill is a large area of fields, salt marsh and Red Maple Swamp that is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, or as I call is—God’s Chosen Seashore.  It has a few gently sloping trails, a lookout and some surprising Native American History.  I think it would be a stretch to call the trails “hiking”, but I did all the ones I could find and it was about 1.5 miles total.

Reeds facing Ocean

As you walk along a path parallel to the shore it leads to an overlook that provides some history of the area.   According to the signs, 15 years before the pilgrims landed, French explorer Samuel de Champlain sailed down from Canada looking for new land.

He sailed into the bay to find it surrounded by houses of the Nauset Native Americans who were happily settled with stunning ocean views.

Fort Hill View of Ocean

This view would be worth a lot on House Hunters: Pre-Colonial Edition

According to Champlain a Native American stole one of the explorer’s copper kettles and in the ensuing melee a sailor died.  While 411 years later we only have Champlain’s side of the story, the French didn’t stay.  It’s unclear if it was entirely because of the kettle, but what a missed opportunity! Only 15 years later the Pilgrims landed a few miles away and established an uptight, completely croissant-less community.

If things had gone differently our national motto could be Laissez les bon temps roulez! French Onion Soup would be just onion soup, and who knows, maybe Trump supporters and protesters could have been shouting and throwing French punches.

Other Attractions:

The community grinding rock!

Close up of Grinding Rock

A large stone the Nauset Native Americans used to grind and sharpen tools on. Evidence of use can be seen today.

Swamp Trail

Sadly not impressive in March:

Red Maple Swamp at Fort Hil

Penniman House

Captain Penniman House

Set further back on Fort Hill is the house of Whaling Captain Edward Penniman. He was one of New England’s most successful whaling captains and even brought his family on excursions with him.  Well, except for one daughter who suffered from sea-sickness and was forced to live with an Aunt (I feel you unnamed, youngest daughter).

You can see he used the jawbone of a whale as the entrance to the property, but hold on PETA–according to the sign this one washed up on shore of natural causes.   This was also the first house in Eastham with indoor plumbing.

Captain Penniman retired to the house in 1884, and in the 1960’s it became part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.  It was not open in March, but tours are offered seasonally.

Parting Notes

While making sure I spelled Penniman correct I found this little tidbit that said it was legally required to attend church in Eastham in the 1600s:

         Those who “slothfully doe lurke, att home” were sought and reported.

“Slothfully doe lurke att home” accurately describes 90% of my weekends.  Can’t a person just netflix and/or milk their cow /whatever people did for fun in 1672?

Its good to be alive in 2016!

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