A little piece of historical trivia is the name of the very first ship to travel through the Cape Cod Canal when it opened on July 29, 1914. Following the Jeopardy answering with a question format, What is the S.S. Rose Standish? And the ship was the perfect choice to be first.
Rose Standish was the first wife of Captain Myles Standish. She was one of many who died in 1620 during the first winter after the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Myles Standish would explore the Manomet and Scusset Rivers three years later considering a canal. That canal would finally be completed almost three hundred years later with great fanfare, with a future President of the United States, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, in attendance.
That first ship, the S.S. Rose Standish, was a coastal passenger vessel built just two years earlier in 1912 and operated by the Nantasket Beach Steamboat Company of Boston. On that July day in 1914, she led a parade of ships through the canal. The celebratory mood was likely tempered by news breaking about events the previous day, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, marking the beginning of World War One. Almost exactly four years after the canal opened that war would impact the canal itself when a German U-Boat surfaced off of Orleans and fired on a tug towing barges. That prompted the United States Army Corps of Engineers to take over the struggling private Cape Cod Canal so ships wouldn’t have to take the more dangerous route around the cape.
The S.S. Rose Standish would be in service into the 1930’s. There’s a great picture from 1930 of her docked in Boston Harbor, right about when the Cape Cod Canal was being widened to its current 480 feet. She likely outlived many of the people who witnessed that first trip up the canal 16 years before. History is full of related twists and turns, and this story offers a good example with Rose Standish, one of the first pilgrims, a young Franklin D Roosevelt and a German U-Boat all playing a part in the same story.