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Cape Cod The Camp Meeting

A few years after the railroad came to the Cape, it attracted to Yarmouth the “camp meeting”. A Methodist gathering that has seen no counterpart in our modern day.

The first meeting was held in Truro. There the congregation had to nail the church together with one hand while they held off their enemies with the other. They slept in beds made on the ground and cooked their meals in the clearing in the woods. The rest of it was prayer and sermons.

Later they shifted to Eastham, then to Orleans, and in 1836 to Yarmouth. A grove was purchased. There the people gathered to worship God, and to patronize the concessions that arose outside the grounds. A large tent was set up and one visitor described it thus:

At night a curtain was stretched across the middle of the tent. The women slept on one side of the curtain and the men on the other side. At 9:30 everything was quiet . . . The camp policemen went on duty. If there was any noise or any light he would come up and pound on the side of the tent.

There the description ends, so we will never know what he did if the noise didn’t stop. Thoreau visited the site of the camping grounds and recorded that there was a pile of clam shells under the benches; probably left by the more ungodly who were just visiting.


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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 03/21/06
Categories: HistoryLife
Keywords: history, life, camp meeting, Methodist


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