Cape Cod Windmills,
Antique, Wind-Driven Grist Mills on Cape Cod
Thoreau's journal will reveal how little the Cape Cod moors have changed in one hundred and fifty years. During Thoreau's visit in October of 1849, however, he navigated across the plains of Eastham by scores of wind-driven gristmills, today he would find only six.
In September you will find one of the antique gristmills decked out in canvas sail if you arrive during the September festival.
In the center of a split rail and rosebush enclosed green near the road where Thoreau once walked you will find the oldest and the best preserved of the six remaining antique mills, the Eastham Windmill.
The center of attention during summer holidays and the September Windmill Celebration, the Eastham Windmill becomes the pride of the Eastham Historical Society when members outfit the sails with cloth, open the doors to visitors, and celebrate the towns history with weekend parties, band concerts, art, food, and family events.
Indeed the mill has seen some history.
Thomas Paine built the Eastham Windmill in nearby Plymouth in 1680 where it ground grain for the descendants of the religious separatists who came in 1620 from Plymouth, England. You can imagine that the windmill might have ground corn for 21 year old John Alden, a cooper who lived in Plymouth until 1687, the youngest man to arrive on the ship Mayflower. He fell in love with 19 year old Priscilla Mullins, who in Longfellow’s poem uttered the memorable words, "Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?"
In the early 1770s the mill owners in Plymouth disassembled the Paine Windmill and floated it by barge across the bay to Truro. Later in 1798 they moved it again, this time to Eastham. Here they rebuilt the mill and it served the town until they moved it again to its present location where it continued to grind grain commercially until 1908.
In a land with little natural timber, building materials never go to waste; each mill suffered several moves and some even contain ship parts that builders salvaged from wrecks along the Atlantic shore.
In 1961, one hundred and ten years after Thoreau’s final visit to the Cape Cod windmills and due in part to his writings about those visits, Congress set aside 27,000 acres of estuary, dune, and beach as a national park. Today the lands of the Cape Cod National Seashore retain their wildness and look much like they did in 1849.
Eastham Windmill History
A recreated windmill built as an artist's studio Cape
Jonathan Young Windmill Orleans
Drummer Boy Park Brewster
Cape Cod windmills are 17th and 18th Century wind-driven mills that include the Eastham Windmill.
The Eastham Mill, built in 1680, is the oldest of the six remaining antique windmills on Cape Cod.
The Cape Cod windmills are meeting places for town events such as the Eastham Windmill weekend in September.
Cape Cod Lodging
Cape Cod Sightseeing
Cape Cod Historic Places
Cape Cod Accommodations
Cape Cod Hotels
Cape Cod Biking
Boston is the nearest large city to Cape Cod.
Air service reaches Boston from other major hubs and cities.
Cape Air, a small commuter airlines serves Hyannis Airport and Provincetown Airport on Cape Cod from Boston. Flights are also available from Providence and New Bedford. US Airways Express, and Linear Air (Hanscom Field Bedford Ma)
Rental cars are available at the airport. From Boston take Route 93 to Route 3 south for 60 miles, cross the Cape Cod Canal. Continue on Route 6 for all locations on Cape Cod or turn east to Route 6A for the slower scenic route through the villages. Routes 6 and 6A join in Orleans and go to the tip of Cape Cod.
Bus service to Cape Cod is available from Boston and from Logan Airport. Plymouth and Brockton, Bus Service and Logan Direct serve Hyannis.
Bonanza Bus Lines serves Bourne, Falmouth, and the Wood's Hole Ferry from Logan Airport
Passenger Boats leave daily from Boston to the tip of Cape Cod (May -September) at Provincetown. Bicycles can go aboard.
A fast cat boat and a slower conventional passenger boat make trips from Boston. Bicycles permitted
A passenger boat makes a daily run from Plymouth, MA to Provincetown, bikes allowed on board.
Fifteen large towns and many small villages make up Cape Cod.
Along the Cape Cod Canal, the towns of Bourne and Sandwich define the northern limit of the upper Cape which includes Falmouth and Mashpee.
\Mid Cape includes Barnstable, Yarmouth, Brewster and Dennis. The mid Cap is where you will find Hyannis Airport
Lower Cape includes Orleans, Brewster, Harwich , and Chatham.
Outer Cape includes Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown.
Drummer Boy Park Brewster, Higgins Farm Windmill