THE CROWN JEWEL
OF THE OLD KING'S HIGHWAY
Driving along the Old King's Highway (Route 6A) on Cape Cod is the closest you can come to stepping back in time to what the Cape was like—what much of America was like—centuries ago. As the road winds its way under a canopy of shade trees you'll pass an almost endless collection of historic homes, some dating from the 1600s. From modest Capes to stately Colonials, these homes—still lived in or converted to inns, B&Bs, even a museum—have been carefully, lovingly preserved by generations of owners and restored to their original character.
It has rightfully been called one of America's most beautiful drives.
Approaching Yarmouth, you'll enter The Captains' Mile. Curving and meandering, the road runs past historic inns and old stone walls covered with lichen ... while stretching out along both sides sit over 50 homes once owned by Sea Captains. You can easily identify them because they all bear the distinctive oval, black and gold Schooner Plaque awarded by the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth.
The men who built these homes helped propel America to become a great maritime power. They skippered the legendary Clipper Ships designed by Donald McKay, unrivaled for their speed and carrying capacity. They routinely circumnavigated the globe to ports as distant as India and China, inaugurating an era of international trade on a massive scale. And they crowned the Golden Age of Sail by setting records, some of which stand to this day, as they ushered in the Age of Steam.
Most of these mariners lived long lives, despite facing the threat of bad weather, miserable food, severe accidents, crippling illness, and an often angry sea—even attacks by pirates. An unlucky few were lost at sea and never found.
The Captains' Mile is timeless, a quiet drive through 400 years of history.
(Click on the photos to advance the slideshow.)
Photos on this page provided courtesy of Nancy Viall Shoemaker and Members of the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth who also provided most of the photos on this site.