Day/Date: SUNDAY -10/30/22
Towns visited: Bourne
Had we ever been to this town before? No
Drive to town: 77 miles Time spent in town: 6 hours
What did we do in the town/area?
BOURNE: Cranberry Bogs!
On our way into Bourne, just after having some delicious coffee from Snowy Owl in Sandwich, we passed by a cemetery that was being landscaped. We did a double take when we saw one of the landscapers in a scary clown mask while cheerfully working away on the day before Halloween. We slowed; aww, who are we kidding? …we stopped to, slyly, take his picture, but he figured us out and purposefully gave us a few visible shots!
We continued on to the Cape Cod Canal, as there is a paved trail that runs along both sides of the canal that you can walk or bike along. We had a pleasant stroll and got picturesque views of the Bourne Bridge and the Cape Cod Railroad bridge. This amazing contraption lowers down when a train needs to cross the canal, and when it isn’t in use, it lifts to clear the way for boat travel. We didn’t get to see a train over it, but we found this youtube video of it happening! See it here.
The Cape Cod Canal runs for 7 miles. There is a lot of history about building a canal that would let shipping boats through without having to go around all of Cape Cod. The construction was started and stopped a few times in the 1800s and 1900s by a few private companies. Management of the canal was taken over by the US Government by an emergency order four days after a German U-Boat showed up off the coast of Orleans, further east on Cape Cod. It turns out that this was the only attack on US soil in WW1.
There was so much history in this town that was much older than the canal! We visited a little historic area with the Jonathan Bourne Library and the Alonzo Booth Forge, a replica of an old blacksmith shop. Nearby we came upon The Old Bourne Cemetery, which piqued our interest differently. No clowns here (!), but the stones were ancient and since Jo’s great-grandmother was named Nancy Ellen Bourne and her ancestors were from the Cape Cod area, we thought we’d see if we could locate any family gravestones. While we didn’t match any of the names with family members, you could feel the history here.
One of our main goals for the day was to find cranberries at harvest time. We researched online and found some trails that might take us to the bogs. The Bourne Conservation Trust has protected many areas in Bourne and maintains many trails. Thank you, BCT! We took a hike in the Bourne Sisters Woodland area. Near the end of our loop trail, we came upon a cranberry bog that had not yet been flooded. It was pretty, and we zoomed the camera in to see the berries still in the bushes. A little disappointed that we did not see the berries being harvested, we got back on the trail that led up to a ridge.
From that ridge, we spotted a bright patch of red. Could it be? Yes, it was! Just down from the bog, we had just seen was another bog that had been harvested. No farmers were actively working the bog that day, BUT they had recently flooded the bog, churned through the fields, and let the berries float to the top. Cranberries have four air pockets inside, allowing them to rise to the water’s surface. After they float, the farmers get into the bog with a “boom,” like a long stiff strap. This allows the farmers to push them together to one side of the bog. Then, a large vacuum sucks them into a truck, where they are culled and washed. It is a fascinating and low-tech process but ingenious. We also learned that most of the cranberries are harvested this way, but some that you would buy for cooking are harvested by hand in dry bogs. Farmers use a type of scooper similar to that used to harvest blueberries. This is much more labor intensive. We were so excited about this find!
In search for a bite to eat, we went to Gray Gables Market for lunch. This cute little store provided us with some delicious sandwiches. We then were on the hunt for local cranberries to purchase.
Next, we headed to Monument Beach, which was on a small cove with many boats. It was so warm, even this last weekend in October, that folks were just hanging out in their beach chairs watching the ocean do it’s thing.
We traveled next to the village of Pocasset. There wasn’t much there, but we did find a little market that had cranberries for sale in a big crate. So, we know they were from one of the local bogs.
Next, we saw the village of Cataumet. This area is charming and must be busy in the summer, with a couple of ice cream shops and mini golf courses. But it was pretty quiet this time of year.
We went on a 2nd BCT cranberry bog hike, starting at Dimmick Field and following the red arrows to the bog. This bog had been flooded, but the berries were not floating at the top. So, either they had finished the harvest, or the farmers still needed to churn through the bogs to knock the berries off the vines. But it was interesting to see a bog in another stage of the process. The afternoon sun made this hike particularly beautiful!
Our final stop of the day was to the village of Buzzards Bay. This felt like the real commercial center of Bourne, with a lot of shops, chain stores and restaurants, and hotels. Buzzards’ Bay is where the Bourne Town Hall was located. This village is also home to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. This is a public university founded in 1891 that focuses on maritime-related fields. The campus is located right at the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. They have a giant ship that is used for training that they might take out to sea for six months or so.
All in all, we were really amazed by all that Bourne has to offer. There is so much water all around, and through Bourne, it makes navigating by car a little challenging But, we had a great day and were so excited to see those berries! Now, we must go home to cook some cranberry bread!
For more information about how cranberry bogs work Fee free to check out this You tube video! Bog video
Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Wampanoag