September 6 - 1930: Fires rage on both sides of the Cape Cod Canal

1620: The Mayflower leaves England for Virginia. 2003: The day Cape Wind won the first round
A Plymouth Fire Department forest fire truck rushing to the blaze in 1930.

1930: Fires rage on both sides of the Cape Cod Canal

FOREST FIRES RAGE IN CAPE COD AREA;
Campers Flee as Flames Sweep Over Forty Square Miles of Woods

On this day in 1930 over forty acres of the Upper Cape were burned to the ground and Bourne, Bournedale, Monument Beach, Pocassett and Falmouth were shrouded in smoke and felt the heat of the flames.

The story in the New York Times on that day is on the right.

We invented the solution

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Barnstable County is the origin of one of the more interesting types of firefighting apparatus. The first "brush breakers" were designed and built in the 1930s  and 1940s by the Cape's fire departments to meet a specific need in dealing with a dangerous rural forest fire danger.

Cape Cod has a very volatile forest fuel load made up of scrub pines, oaks and others.  This fuel load and local weather conditions are usually very conducive to forest fires especially during the droughts of the 1930s.  Some of these fires burned hundreds of acres per hour in a true fire storm. 

Over the years Cape Cod's firefighters tried a number of systems to combat these fires.  Early detection has been provided by several fire towers which still dot the Cape to this day while firefighting is performed by specialized apparatus know as "brush breakers."

Brush breakers are all-wheel drive trucks with heavy steel bars and protective plating welded to protect the trucks while it literally drives through the woods, winding its way along the flanks of the fire, knocking down and driving over trees as necessary.

1620: The Mayflower leaves Plymouth England for Virginia, ends up here

Mayflower settlers endured rough conditions

On this day in 1620, Capt. Christopher Jones, with a crew of 30 and 102 passengers, set sail “with a prosperous wind” from Plymouth, England, in the Mayflower and headed west across the Atlantic Ocean to settle what would become the first permanent English settlement in New England...

The passengers who disembarked at Cape Cod in early November were in woeful condition after what must have been an extremely difficult and fearful crossing. Most of the travelers were constantly seasick, sanitary conditions were primitive in the extreme, and the food supply was totally insufficient and unhealthy for the travelers who spent most of the time below deck huddled together for warmth and companionship....

Happily, we now know a great deal about the harrowing trials and tribulations of the early years of the Pilgrim Colony...

Read the full story in the Northwest Herald here.

2003: The day Cape Wind won the first round

Energy cost triples in half a decade

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On this day in 2003, the opponents to the wind farm in Nantucket Sound got their first of a dozen legal set-backs, and that was when gas was selling for $1.48 a gallon, 36% of the price in August 2008. 

A prescient article from the Christian Science Monitor from that week began:

Who's got the power?

As Americans become more detached from their power sources, sacrificing for an invisible grid holds less and less appeal. But the stakes are high...

A stormy debate over who will make such sacrifices is raging in Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound...

Last week, a federal judge struck a blow to opponents of a proposed $700 million offshore wind farm there, who fear the consequences of such an installation for ocean views and local wildlife...

But the problem is broader than Cape Cod, and deeper...

Read the full story here.


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