Summer tourists coming ashore in Eastham, 1852

A hundred and fifty years ago it was much more difficult to get to Outer Cape Cod. During the 1800s, Cape Cod played host to a large number of religious revivalist meetings in the summer. In many ways this was the start of Cape Cod’s tourist economy. Originally they congregated in large outdoor tent camps. This is how some roads like Campground Rd in Eastham got named. With the camp meetings occurring year after year, summer cottages were slowly built to accommodate the congregations. The railroad ended in Sandwich until 1854 when it was extended to Hyannis. It took until 1865 for it to reach Orleans, and 1870 for it to reach Eastham and Wellfleet, and 1873 to Truro and Provincetown. This left two methods of transportation available to visitors ,they could either take stagecoaches in uncomfortable trips that could take days, or they could take packet boats from Boston and New York City. In towns without a harbor large enough to accommodate the packet boats, such as Eastham or Brewster, stagecoaches were driven out onto the sand flats at mid tide to meet small craft ferrying passengers from the larger packet. The passengers were then transferred directly from the boat to the stagecoach which took them to their summer camps. One can only imagine the luggage mishaps that must have occurred!