Particulars: Restrooms and bathhouse open seasonally.
Directions: Six miles north of Salt Pond Visitor Center, off Route 6 in Wellfleet.
Safety: Watch for bicyclists along Route 6, and where the bicycle trail crosses the Marconi area entrance road.
Prominent Features Nearby:
The Marconi site uplands are a landscape slowly recovering from European land-use practices, which stripped the landscape of topsoil, and then further from the effects of Camp Wellfleet, which added to the impoverishment of the vegetative cover during World War II. The landscape today, however, serves as an important upland heath community, which harbors several rare species, including broom crowberry and two types of poverty grass.
An observation platform at the Marconi Station site offers an excellent overview of the Outer Cape, including both ocean and bay.
The Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail is a 1-1/2 mile nature trail that descends gradually in elevation into the swampy environment that hosts Atlantic white cedar and red maple trees. The trail offers an excellent view of different plant communities, starting with heathlands, then stunted pitch pines and bear oak, taller pitch pines and black and white oaks, and finally the white cedar-red maple community.
The Marconi Area obtained its name from the famous Italian inventor, Marconi. From a site here, Marconi successfully completed the first transatlantic wireless communication between the U.S. and England in 1903.
Here, the outer beach is famous for its then steep, forty-foot sand cliff (or scarp) located behind it.
Swimmers and beach walkers feel a sense of solitude here because the scarp and ocean provide an unbroken, pristine natural scene in all directions.
The uplands above the beach slope gradually westward, and provide a graceful vista of both the bay and sea horizons of this portion of the Cape.
A platform above the Marconi station site enhances this view, and offers vistas southward to Eastham, and northward to Truro.
The Marconi operation at this location was initiated by the young inventor in 1901. However, in December of that year, due to a number of setbacks, he had to use temporary facilities on St. John's, Newfoundland to prove his theory--wireless could cross the Atlantic! Meanwhile, a new station was built in Nova Scotia while repairs were being made to the Wellfleet station, and the first two-way, transatlantic wireless message was made at Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, on December 17, 1902. Not long after, the Wellfleet Station was ready, and on January 18, 1903, Marconi staged another world's first (and a bit of a media event) by successfully transmitting messages between the president of the United States and the king of England. With rapid advances in technology, the station became outdated in a matter of a few years, and was replaced by a newer station in Chatham, Massachusetts.
Marconi chose this site because of the barrenness of this elevated table land overlooking the ocean. The government chose the area for similar reasons during World War II, and established Camp Wellfleet at this site to serve as an artillery training facility. The military camp eventually outlived its need, and the property was transferred to the National Park Service with the creation of Cape Cod National Seashore. The park's administrative headquarters located here in 1965. T
he award-winning Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail, so designated by James Watt, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, is located here, providing a cross-section look at much of the Cape's upland vegetative communities.