Every year, hundreds of thousands of people cross over the Cape Cod Canal using either the Sagamore or Bourne Bridge, and when you do you know you have arrived on the Cape. Being a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water, Cape Cod is also only accessible by travelling over the Cape Cod Canal, the widest sea-level canal without locks in the world, making the drive feel just a little more special. Visitors marvel at the beauty of the canal, anxious for their vacation to begin, while locals know feel the warm comfort of coming home.
The Cape Cod Canal was opened in July 1914, after 5 years of construction. It was built to create more efficient nautical trade routes It was built to create more efficient nautical trade routes, opening in
July 1914. Passage through the Canal is safer than having to maneuver around the dangerous shoals and unpredictable currents surrounding the Outer Cape, and saves ships more than 160 miles of travel, instead of having to navigate around the tip of Cape Cod.
In 1928, the United States Army Corps of Engineers took over the operation of the Cape Cod Canal thanks to the authority of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1927. The canal would be improved, widened and deepened. The biggest improvements would come however through the construction of entirely new bridges. The new Bourne and Sagamore bridges would be fixed structures rather than drawbridges. These bridges were built simultaneously and opened in 1935. The history of the Cape Cod Canal, since then, is long and storied. There were ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and improvements galore.
So, what do you do if you want to explore this man-made wonder? You can of course ride your bike, walk, or even skate along Canal Service Road on either the north or south side of the canal. This 7.5 mile stretch of recreational path is a popular spot even in the off season to enjoy watching the boat traffic along the canal, enjoy some fresh air, and take in the natural beauty of the area.
Or, for a little more excitement and summer fun, you can take a Cape Cod Canal Cruise with us! This year is our 40th season, and we are proud to be the only sightseeing cruise showing off this historical landmark! In 1979, we began operating cruises on the Cape Cod Canal from Onset with the purchase of Cape Cod Canal Cruises. Since then the M/V “Viking” has run daily cruises on the canal from May – October along with charters and nighttime specialty cruises.
Points of interest during our 2- or 3-hour cruise include Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Sagamore Bridge, Bourne Bridge, Vertical Lift Railroad Bridge, Gray Gables, Herring Run, Aptucxet Trading Post, Scusset Beach Fish Pier, Sandwich Boat Basin and Cape Cod Bay. With our live narration, and friendly tour guides, you won’t miss a wink of the fascinating history or any of the landmarks along the way. These tours are a great addition to any Cape Cod vacation! Monday through Saturday during the summer our 4pm trip is a Kids Ride Free family cruise. Be sure to check it out if you have kiddos with you!
Maybe history isn’t your thing, that’s okay! We still have something for you to enjoy. We offer specialty cruises such as our Sunset Cocktail Cruise, Friends and Family Music Cruise, and a Live Music Cruise (21+)! Music, drinks, good friends, and beautiful views, what could be better? This year we are even expanding our live music cruises and adding a few Thursday nights as well. Be sure to check out the details here!
We would love to see you this summer as we celebrate 40 years of cruising the canal!