History of Rockport, Massachusetts

North of Boston

Before the coming of the English explorers and colonists, Cape Ann was home to a number of Native American villages inhabited by members of the “Agawam Tribe”.  Samuel De Champlain named the peninsula “Cap Aux Isles” in 1605. By the time European explorers found a permanent settlement in Gloucester in 1623; most of the Agawams had been killed by diseases caught from the early contacts with Europeans.  It is rumored the Vikings had been the first white man in the area as well.

The area that is now Rockport was an inhabited part of Gloucester for more than 100 years and was primarily used as a source for timber; especially pine for ship building.  The area around Cape Ann was one of the best fishing grounds in New England. In 1743 a dock was built at Rockport Harbor on Sandy Bay and was used for both timber and fishing. In the beginning of the 19th century the first granite quarries were developed and by the 1830’s Rockport Granite was being shipped to cities and towns throughout the East Coast. The demand for granite decreased with the increasing use of concrete during the Great Depression.

Rockport had consisted primarily of large estates, summer homes and a small fishing village. It was set off as a separate town from Gloucester in 1840 as residents desired a separate  enclave with its own identity.

Rockport still thrives as an artists colony which began years earlier due to its rocky boulder-strewn ocean beaches, quaint fishing shacks and a  harbor filled with small colorful fishing boats. In 1897, Rudyard Kipling’s novel “Captain Courageous” also made the area famous.

 MOTIF Number 1  one of the most famous sites by painters and then photographers  was named by Lester Hornby, an illustrator and etcher who taught in Paris, France in Winters and drew certain standard subjects or motifs. In 1933 the Rockport American Legion Post No 98 built a 27′ scale model  of  “Motif No 1” for the legion parade which was held in Chicago and site of th 1933 World’s Fair.  Designed by Aldro Hibbard and Anthony Thieme with participation by the RAA, Board of trade and townspeople. The float was commissioned in June and completed by the end of September and driven in daylight only from Rockport to Chicago in less than a week.  On October 3, 1933 among 200 floats it won 1st Place. Upon the floats return to Rockport’s crowd of over 4,000 lined up and down Great Hall (5 corners) to welcome the float home!  Rockport’s Revolt Against Rum

In the Summer of 1856 a group of 200 women led by Hannah Jumper swept through the town and destroyed anything containing alcohol in what is called “Rockports Revolt Against Rum” and banned alcohol from the town. Using Hatchets they began their raid and in the words of eyewitness Ebenezer Pool “on finding and keg, jug or cask having spirituous liquor in it…with their hatchets broke or otherwise destroyed it”.

Fishing was a mainstay of Rockport. However, the weather only permitted fishing 9 months of the year. Instead of finding other employment the men idled away their time and consumed enormous amounts of liquor. Year after year, the economic deprivation caused by those periods of inactivity worsened the money spent on spirits. The women of the town grew increasingly frustrated. Finally in 1856, with the rise of the temperance movement and early rumblings of Womens Rights…the women of Rockport met secretly to plot their historic raid!


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Rockport, Massachusetts

The Arts Are ALIVE in Rockport!


Artists, Music, Theater, Shopping, Exploring and more! 6 Area beaches, 2 lighthouses, over 25 restaurants and forty plus B&B’s and Inns. Rockport offers so much to do and spectacular ocean views! Motif Number 1 Rockport’s trademark red fishing shack on Bradley Wharf. One of the most famous sites, first by painters then by photographers.


WalktheWords.com offers educational walks in the Rockport and Gloucester woods. They offer two different tours as well. America’s oldest ghost town tour of historic Downtown Dogtown and the Babson Word Rocks that features boulders inscribed by words from the Great Depression.   The second tour is the Whales Jaw Tour where you can walk the boardwalk at Briars Swamp. Both tour areas and rock formations were created by glaciers 10,000 years ago. Each of these tours are about 2 hours.

The Rockport Music  offers concerts, events and music festivals.  They are in their 30th season and offer performances during June and July.

Let’s Go Shopping!

Rockport has over 40 shops ThePewterShop is the oldest gift shop in Rockport.  Founded in 1935 offering the finest items made of pewter from sculptures and picture frames to baby gifts and wine accessories.

The Bolivia Trading Post specializes in high quality Alpaca products, handcrafted silver jewelry and more. VillageSilversmith is your source for beautiful gemstones from all over the world.  The Toad Hall Book Store  is a full service independent bookstore dedicated to environmental conscience living.  All net proceeds go to environmental projects and education.

Emerson Inn by the Sea Cape Ann’s only historic Grand Hotel located in the Pigeon Cove area of Rockport.   This Inn  features Award Winning Oceanfront Dining and Classic and Creative New England Cuisine.  A Seaside veranda, Brunch and Dinner, Award Winning Wine List  of over 100 selections and available for Weddings, Special Events and Conferences. They also feature a Halloween Ball every year.

Rockport also offers Parks, Bird Watching, Golf, Kayaking, Sailing, Hiking, Whale watching and Boat and Fishing Charters and Parties. For more info visit the RockportChamber of Commerce 


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History of Perkins Cove

Then & Now


Ogunquit meant “Coastal Lagoon” to native Abenaki Indians and was first a village within Wells, Maine settled in 1641. The first sawmill was established in 1686 and shipbuilding developed along the Ogunquit River.  Besides constructing schooners and brigs, local shipwrights built the famous “Ogunquit Dory”.

First called “Fish Cove”, fishing was a major livelihood but the cove was unprotected by breakwater from the Atlantic storms. Fisherman had to protect their boats by hauling them ashore each night and the Fish Cove Harbor Association was created. They dug a channel across the land they purchased to connect Fish Cove with Josias River.  When the trench was complete….IN ROARED THE OCEAN. It’s erosion helped further widen the passage. The resulting tidewater basin would be called “Perkins Cove” across which spans a manually operated  draw footbridge and one of the most photographed in Maine!

The Beach…The People…The Arts

 A  3 mile beach of pale sand and dunes form a barrier peninsula and connected to the mainland in 1888 by bridge across the Ogunquit River. The weather-beaten village was discovered by artists and became a popular art colony and tourist area. In 1898 when the Ogunquit Art Colony was established it was not unusual to see artists and fisherman selling their trades at Perkins Cove.  To accommodate Summer crowds several seaside hotels and inns were built.

Marginal Way


The area is also known for it’s historical trail known as Marginal Way.  A one and a half mile paved trail along the coastline from Perkins Cove to Ogunquit Beach. There are benches along the way to linger and enjoy the view. It’s an easy walk and very photographic as well. If you are painter or photographer you will definitely want to pack your easel and paint brushes or camera and enjoy! 2-hour  Walking Tours are also available to learn more about the 350 year history of Ogunquit.

Josiah Chase Jr., a conservationist and former state legislator retired to York, Maine and
bought a 20 acre strip of land from Perkins Cove to Israel Head. He donated a 1 mile strip to the town of Ogunquit in 1925. Years latter other Ogunquit landowners who also showed their love of Ogunquit donated the other 1/4 mile.


Stroll the 1 1/4 mile paved path with park benches, fragrant flowers in season, ocean breezes and photographic views. The Marginal Way Preservation Fund is a committee that protects and preserves the Marginal Way for future generations. To learn more or to donate to the cause please click on the link above.


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Perkins Cove, Maine

 Picture Perfect Postcard

The New England coastline is full of nooks and crannies everywhere! In Maine you can find them all over the coast. One of our favorites is Perkins Cove.  Perkins Cove is beautiful to visit any season as it is on the coast, but it is May through October that the sun shines brightest and it is the most busiest and a favorite destination for many.

Perkins Cove is a small but popular artist colony and tourist area with shops, restaurants, lodging facilities and breathtaking views of the ocean. It is also known for it’s historical trail known as the Marginal Way.  Once known as a fishing village, Perkins Cove is now an outdoor mall of shops and boutiques.

Perkins Cove has been a favorite place for artists, painters and tourists for generations. It’s great to spend a day and or evening strolling the shops, the Marginal Way and having fresh seafood at area restaurants.  It’s even better to spend a few days or a week exploring the entire area including Ogunquit and nearby towns like Wells and other nearby coastal towns.

 You’ll find unique New England themed shops like The Pottery Shop at Perkins Cove which is now open weekends and will open daily in mid April. This shop features pottery, art, gifts, jewelry and more.  Mountain Top Tee’s has 2 floors of souvenirs, t-shirts, clothing and jewelry.  Seaglass Jewelry Shop and Perkins Cove Candies are some other area favorites to stroll through for great area finds.

You’ll find fresh seafood at Barnacle Billy’s  opening for their 50th season, Friday, April 8th.  This restaurant is actually two restaurants side by side known for their luxury lobster, steamed clams, large lusty drinks, barbecued chicken, homemade clam chowder, lobster rolls and more. Barnacle Billy’s has an extensive indoor dining area as well as a sundeck with all the beauty of the harbor and ocean views. Another area favorite is MC Perkins voted “Top Ten Places in the World with a View” by USA Today in Summer 2007.

Finest Scenic Cruises offers several scenic sightseeing cruises in the area. They are open
for the season May 1st through Mid October. There’s a late afternoon cocktail cruise, an evening cruise, a daily breakfast cruise and a lobster cruise where you can experience watching Maine lobster-men trap and haul fresh lobsters! This is a great experience and family fun for the whole family. There is also a cruise of nearby Nubble Lighthouse which is their longest cruise; a 14 mile round trip of unsurpassed views of York’s elegant homes on the rocky coast.

Riverside Motel is the only lodging facility actually located on the cove linked via the footbridge.  There are many other inns, motels and B&B’s in Ogunquit.  Parking is limited especially in the busy season and several trolley’s also operate through Ogunquit Trolley which operates late June through mid October. Plus it’s a fun way to see other sites nearby. For more information on the area visit The Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce.

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History of the Steamships on Lake Sunapee

 In the late 19th century, Lake Sunapee became a popular destination for people that lived the city life in New England, New York and New Jersey. It was the Steamboat Era in which passengers came to the large resorts and lakefront cottages…AND GET AWAY THEY DID!

There were major steamer landings at Sunapee Harbor, Georges  Mill, Lakeside Landing Blodgett Landing, Brightwood, Pine Cliff, Lake Station (which was also where the train station was located), Soo-Nipi, Burkehaven and Granliden. They would take the tourists to the grand hotels that surrounded the lake including Soo-Nipi Park Lodge, Granliden Hotel, Ben Mere Inn and Indian Cave Lodge.  One of the first commercial boats in 1854 was actually propelled by horses!

N.S. Gardner purchased Little Island for $1.00 and put a bowling alley on it!  He then launched the Penacook (latter named Mountain Maid) to carry passengers to Little Island and so the STEAMBOAT ERA BEGAN!

The Woodsum Brothers launched the Lady Woodsum in 1876. It was 50 feet long and could carry 75 passengers. In 1885, The Edmund Burke was launched. It was a 90 foot steamboat carrying 600 passengers. The Amenia White was launched in 1887, it was 101 feet long and carried 650 passengers and was the flagship of the Woodsum fleet and the biggest steamer to ever sail Lake Sunapee! In 1897 the MV Kearsarge was launched at 70 feet carrying  250 passengers with daily sails in the summer months. In 1902 the Weetamoo a 50 footer was launched and after 25 years service on the lake was suddenly scuttled in the middle of the night near Newbury. This ship is still intact and is visited frequently by local SCUBA clubs. The Sunapee Historical Society Museum also is home to the SS Kearsarge’s wheelhouse that was salvaged from the lake in the 1960’s. The 50 foot MV Mount Sunapee was launched in 1965 and takes passengers on lake cruises in summer months. The original Mount Sunapee was named Susie Qand had been a rum runner in Damariscotta, Maine.

Following the extension pf the B&M Railroad into nearby Newbury, Lake Sunapee became a popular vacation area long before the introduction of the automobile. The main rail station was at Newbury Harbor at the southern most point of the lake. Today, the village contains a colorful antique caboose commemorating the railroad line. 

The Grand Resort Hotels

The grand resort hotels and family estates that were nestled around Lake Sunapee  catered to the wealthy escaping the summer heat and hectic life of the city life in Boston and New York City. The hotels attracted many musicians for
their house orchestras to entertain at the grand hotels.But with the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930’s the Grand Era of the many hotels ended.

 The Lighthouses

The Woodsum Brothers , who owned the steamships in the area are also responsible for building the 3 lighthouses on Lake Sunapee in the 1890’s. The Burkehaven Lighthouse, Herrick Cove Lighthouse and Loon Island Lighthouse.  These lighthouses were built to help direct the steamships of the day.

The Islands

Lake Sunapee is about 9 miles long and is the highest lake of it’s size in America!  It is 1100 feet above sea level and it contains 11 islands: Elizabeth Island, Emerald Island, Great Island, Isle of Pines, Little Island, Loon Island, Minute Island, Penny Island, Star Island and Twin Islands.


 There are public access places for swimming at Sunapee State Park Beach and boat launch ramps at Sunapee Harbor and

Sunapee State Park Beach


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Sunapee Harbor New Hampshire

Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire

Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire


 One of my favorite places is Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire.  There’s just something about it.  The air is cleaner, the water is clearer and it is just purely breathtaking, relaxing and rejuvenating! This is a magical  place with a unique history!  Native American  Algonquin Indians called the lake “Soo-Nipi” or “Wild Goose Waters” for the many geese that passed over the lake for migration.

The Lake also resembles a goose in flight with the birds head at the harbor area when seen from an aerial view or from nearby Mt. Sunapee. The lake is also surrounded by 3 towns incorporating the villages of Sunapee Harbor and Georges Mill, Newbury, and New London.

Lake Sunapee is listed under the “1,000 Places to See Before you Die“.  So let’s explore together and see why!

Each season is special at Lake Sunapee whether it’s Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter.  You can enjoy the beach, fishing, boating, water-skiing, water sports, boat rides and pure relaxation. In  the fall there is great leaf peeping and in the Winter there’s ice fishing, and ice sailing on the lake and skiing at nearby Mount Sunapee.

 Sunapee Harbor is the hot spot of the area that features a boat launch as well as several small shops, a deli, ice cream stand and other historic landmarks.  One of the lakes favorite attractions is Sunapee Cruises They offer a narrative boat tour from Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day on the MV Mt. Sunapee II as well as dinner cruises on the MV Kearsarge.  This is a 2 hour buffet dinner with the captain as your guide and offers 2 levels of enclosed dining. A full bar is also available with dinner cruises.  Both the sightseeing tour as well as the dinner cruise are very enjoyable and memorable experiences.  Dinner Cruises are available from May through October.  Charter boats for special occasions and weddings are also available.

Another favorite stop here is The Anchorage Restaurant  reopens for the season May 18th and serves Lunch and Dinner and has outdoor dining. The menu includes everything from appetizers, soups, chowders, salads, sandwiches and more.  There is also musical entertainment Thursday – Saturday nights.  This is also the noted restaurant that  Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler met Joe Perry some 4o+ years ago. There are several inns and cottages as well as homes that are available for rentals.  Lake Sunapee has some of the most beautiful lake houses you will ever find. Some of the prestigous names in history have had homes their including the Colgate’s and the Coleman’s. To find out more information visit LakeSunapeenh.org

Plan a Visit
We hope we have encouraged you to explore Lake Sunapee and the surrounding area. If your visiting for a day, a long weekend or decide an extended stay is the thing for you please take advantage of the links we provided for some great destinations to visit and things to do.  While visiting the area you may also want to think about staying at the historic Dexter’s Inn or contacting a local real estate company like The New London Agency for extended rentals.

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