Rich and I have lived on Cape Cod, happily running our bed and breakfast inn, for seven years now. Yet, today we learned something new about the place we call home. Our inn is located just off Route 6A, affectionately known as the Old Kings Highway. Having been designated one of the 10 most scenic drives in America, Route 6A is also the longest national historic road in Massachusetts. A drive along the winding curves of this historic route will take you past some 200 sea captains’ homes that date back to the 1800 and heyday of the whaling era here on Cape Cod.
In Yarmouthport, a mile and a half strip of 6A has been aptly and officially named the Captain’s Mile, for along this length are 47 stately homes that belonged to former sea captains. In 2004, the Yarmouthport Historical Society completed extensive research that identified 55 properties along that route that were once owned by men who sailed the seas. Many are still private homes, although some have been converted to bed and breakfast inns or other commercial enterprises. In honor of their unique history, each sea captains’ home along the Yarmouthport Captain’s Mile proudly bears a black and gold Schooner Plaque near the front door as a means of identification.
So today as we drove this historic route, winding along the sinewy tree-lined curves past manicured lawns and well-tended gardens, we tried to spot the Schooner Plaque homes and imagine what life was like for the hearty sailors that took to the sea in pursuit of whales or some other treasure, and the wives and children they left behind.