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Massachusetts Has A Disappearing Island And You Need To Explore It

Can you imagine if your hometown just ceased to exist? That’s what happened to the people living on Billingsgate Island just off the coast of Eastham. Their beautiful home would become known as the “Atlantis of Cape Cod,” and it’s a pretty cool place to explore today.

Now known as Billingsgate Shoal, the island was once a 60-acre swathe of dry land. During the 19th century, the island was a prosperous fishing community and even had its own baseball team.

A lighthouse was built on the island in 1822, but continual flooding took its toll on the structure. In 1875, the lighthouse keeper actually died during one episode of flooding.

Even though over 1000 feet of sea-wall was constructed to protect the island, erosion could not be slowed. By the early 1900s, the last residents of the island were forced to leave. Many actually had their entire homes floated on rafts from the island to the mainland.

Today, the eroded island is an amazing place for a bit of exploration or a seaside picnic. Masonry bricks, granite blocks and even old household objects can be discovered when Billingsgate Island reappears at low tide. You can visit by boat, and the spot is perfect for shellfishing. Some of the original homes that were floated to shore are still standing and known as the Billingsgate Cottages.

Check out this podcast episode by Mel Tulin about a visit to the island here. If you’re looking other amazing and hidden Massachusetts seaside spots, take a look at our list of the best lesser-known beaches in the state.

Sophia
Massachusetts native. Freelance writer and strawberry eater. Get in touch: smitrokostas@onlyinyourstate.com.