March 7 - 1970: Rare total solar eclipse seen here

2007: The Islander ferry makes last run
The former SSA ferry Islander sold on eBay for $23,600 two years after its last run here.

1970: Rare total solar eclipse is visible here

More people traveled to see this eclipse than any other in history

On this day in 1970, a total solar eclipse, a celestial rarity that few people ever witness, was visible along a narrow band stretching 8,500 miles and passing over Nantucket.

The 100-mile wide path of the moon's shadow began in the Pacific Ocean near the Galapagos Islands and extended through Mexico, northern Florida and Georgia, the Carolina and Virginia coastlines, the Cape & Islands and Canada before ending in the North Atlantic.

"It was the last total eclipse the eastern United States will see in this century," reported National Geographic in its August 1970 issue.

Flower children gather at local beaches

Despite it being long before our tourist season, the Cape had a boost from the hundreds who came to sit on our Atlantic beaches for this "mystic" event. I remember being surrounded by wannabe "Flower Children" sitting on Chatham's Lighthouse Beaches for the event.

"Undoubtedly more people traveled to see this eclipse than any other in history ... Countless thousands lined highways and beaches during the eclipse, awaiting the two or three minutes of totality to watch a vision of rare beauty, the sun's corona. Totally or partially, the eclipse could be seen over nearly every section of North America."

Two years later Vineyard resident Carly Simon released the song "You're So Vain," with the lines,

Well I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun...
  

2007: Islander ferry makes final voyage, sold for $23,000 two years later

Goodbye Islander, hello Island Home

On this day, after almost 57 years, the Islander ferry (see a slide show here) stopped running. Her last run was noon on Monday and the return trip to Martha's Vineyard would be aboard the huge, new Island Home. On the right is an old postcard of the Islander around 1950.

There are no potential buyers yet for the Islander according to Steamship Authority general manager Wayne Lamson, but he surmised the ferry might be sold aboard, where standards of ferry travel and safety are not as high as they are in the US.

As the Vineyard Gazette wrote about the two ferries, "It was impossible not to be impressed by the contrast between the old boat and the new. It starts with her sheer bulk. She towers over her predecessor - more than 50 feet longer and four feet wider.

The Islander was bought by the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corp and two years later in February 2009 the former Steamship Authority ferry sold for $23,600 on eBay - a whopping $476,400 less than what its current owner, the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corp., paid a year and half ago.

Read the NY Times story about the Islander's new life here.


CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.