The first government constructed and staffed lifesaving stations, known as the US Life Saving Service, were established in 1872 as part of the Department of Treasury. The Wellfleet Beachcomber was one of nine Life Saving Service stations built on the Outer Cape (Race Point, Highlands, Peaked Hill Bars, Pamet, Cahoon’s Hollow, Nauset, Orleans, Chatham, and Monomoy Point).
Russell Gallagher, who had spent his summers as a boy at Cahoon Hollow Beach, bought the old station in 1953 and converted it into a tiny inn known as the Beachcomber. Inside, driftwood and nautical treasures were “combed” from the shore to finish one of the rooms. Mr. Gallagher owned and operated the Beachcomber for 25 years before selling it to the current owners in 1978.
President John F. Kennedy established the Cape Cod National Seashore in August 1961 by purchasing and eminent domaining 43,500 acres of ponds, woodlands, and oceanfront in the municipalities of Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, Eastham, Orleans, and Chatham on the Atlantic–facing Eastern side of Cape Cod. The Town of Wellfleet owns 8,000 acres (12.5 square miles) in this area. The Beachcomber was/is allowed to stay within the National Seashore as a privately held commercial property due to a “Grandfather” clause (only of eleven at that time). The Beachcomber, atop Cahoon Hollow Beach’s dunes, offers a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Beachcomber has become one of the most iconic restuarants not only on Cape Cod, but America. “The Beachcomber has been voted “One of the Best Seaside Dining Spots in New England” by Yankee Magazine, “Best Raw Bar, Best Outdoor Dining, Best Specialty Cocktail, and Best Entertainment” in the Cape Cod Life Readers’ Polls, “Best Bar on the Cape & Islands” by Boston Magazine, “Best Bar in America” by Esquire, and #10 on the Travel Channel’s “Twenty-One Sexiest Beach Bars in the World” by Travel Channel. It doesn’t get any more real than the Wellfleet Beachcomber, which has an outside bar overlooking the Atlantic and an indoor bar in the center of a former US Lifesaving Station.
ps – The Goombay Smash is their special drink that they have served millions of! Cheers!