Dune Erosion Forces Demolition Of Marconi Interpretive Kiosk At Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod National Seashore crews demolished the Marconi kiosk on Tuesday, rather than waiting for nature to do the job. NPS photo.

Rather than waiting for erosion to do the job, crews at Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts have demolished the interpretive kiosk at the site where Guglielmo Marconi made history in 1903 by sending the first transatlantic wireless message to England.

The small shelter with placards telling Marconi's story stood on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic near South Wellfleet. Over the decades, seashore staff interpreted this significant story through exhibits and radio events, including some in the vicinity of the site from which that original message was sent.

While some artifacts from the original station site remain, most have been lost over time as the shoreline has eroded. Continued shoreline erosion prompted the decision to raze the kiosk, which stood just 32 feet from the edge of the cliff when it was demolished on Tuesday.

“It was time to remove this iconic exhibit about Marconi. The shelter and cement base could have gone over the coastal bluff if we experienced the same type of erosion as we did in last year’s winter storms," said Superintendent George Price. "If we had waited any longer, it would have been unsafe for workers to get in with heavy equipment.”

National seashore staff considered relocating the shelter and its exhibits further inland, but this was deemed structurally infeasible. In the future, the national seashore will install new interpretive exhibits near the parking area, safely away from the eroding dune.

The site’s overlook, with its stunning view of both the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay, remains in place. Visitors are reminded to remain back from eroding dunes at the Marconi Site and elsewhere in the national seashore.

A model in the park headquarters building in Wellfleet depicts the layout of the original wireless station site. The building is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

“Natural shoreline change and potential effects from global climate change and sea level rise are pressing issues at the national seashore. We need to learn how to adapt to the changing environment," the superintendent said. "A sustainable approach to the design of new facilities, exhibits, and parking areas will be needed. The recently-constructed Herring Cove Bathhouse complex and the alternatives discussed for the North Parking lot are examples of how we are designing for the future.”