Posts Tagged ‘new england’

We spent July 4th in Portland, Maine, listening to the Portland Symphony and watching fireworks from the Eastern Promenade.

But on July 3rd, we were in Gloucester, Massachusetts, for the annual Fishtown Horribles Parade. According to the repository of all true facts, parades of horribles were common Independence Day celebrations in the 19th century and continue to be so in some towns in New England. Well, that’s definitely true in Gloucester. There were not too many “horribles” (my father did capture this one), but people put together some interesting floats (often sponsored by a local business), some businesses had their own floats, and some people seemed to put something together and march simply for the joy of being in the parade. Everybody watching seemed to know everybody marching and vice-versa. Karen remarked that it had the homey (not “homie” — more on that below) feel of a small town, even though Gloucester’s not that small.

The waterfront was bedecked with flags. If you look closely you can see the Man at the Wheel in the center:

Plenty of small boats, some being towed and some self-propelled:

This girl really got into the spirit:

The Gorton’s fisherman put in an appearance:

And there was a small mermaid. Maybe next year she’ll come to Coney Island!

And finally, Homie the seagull, GoodMorningGloucester‘s mascot:

Followed by Joey, the man behind Homie (literally) and the driving force behind GoodMorningGloucester:

GMG has many more pictures from the parade.

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Every now and then I get to combine hobbies—in this case motorcycles, movable bridges, and boats. I’m just back from a weekend bike trip to Gloucester to get my fix of New England fishing boats and towns. In Gloucester I stayed at the Crow’s Nest, the bar made famous by the book and movie The Perfect Storm. Upstairs from the bar are hotel rooms—nothing fancy, but they’re clean and relatively cheap. There is no extra charge for the stale smoke smell. That’s the Crow’s Nest in the background:


It was pretty chilly during the ride up. Like Howard Blackburn, I thought I would let my hands freeze around the grips lest all be lost. Unlike Howard, I got to keep my fingers.

Gloucester has one two movable bridges. This is the Blynman Bridge:


It’s a double-leaf bascule bridge and was built in 1907 to honor Richard Blynman. In 1643 he dug the canal—known as the Cut—that connects the Annisquam River with Gloucester Harbor. (See the comments for an interesting note about this bridge.) This shot shows the counterweights that assist with opening the leaf:


The bridge operator on duty was kind enough to let me in to the control house so I could get a picture of the control panel:


GoodMorningGloucester has videos from inside the control house and photos of the bridge here. Live streaming video of the bridge can be seen on this webcam.

Nearby Essex was a center for shipbuilding. Of the estimated 6000 schooners built in Essex, seven have survived. Here’s the bow of the schooner Roseway (built in 1925), on the hard at the Gloucester Marine Railways for its annual haul-out:


The Gloucester Marine Railways have been around since 1859, making them the country’s oldest continuously operating marine railways.

This is the bow of the Evelina M. Goulart (built in 1927), undergoing restoration at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum:


Also at the shipbuilding museum is a sailing model of the schooner Ernestina (ex-Effie M. Morrisey, built in 1894). Ernestina currently resides in New Bedford. The model is named Effie M Morrisey Jr:


Here’s my dad, to provide scale:


The model can actually be sailed by a person lying prone on the deck.

The schooner Adventure (built in 1926) is based in Gloucester:


The oldest surviving Essex schooner is the Lettie G. Howard (built in 1893), currently owned by the South Street Seaport Museum in New York. In this photo by Karen, the Lettie is seen sailing wing-and-wing down the Hudson:


The Lettie was originally sailed out of Gloucester, and though this may ruffle some feathers here in New York, I think it’s time for her to be repatriated. She belongs in Gloucester.

Another type of Gloucester boat is the dory. This one was made in the dory shop at the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center:


It was being raffled off to raise money for the Gloucester International Dory Racing Committee, and despite the confidence I display in the following video, I did not win.

(video courtesy of GoodMorningGloucester)

Northeast of Gloucester is the town of Rockport, home to one of the most painted and photographed buildings in America, Motif #1:


The original shack was destroyed in the Blizzard of 1978; what you see now is an exact duplicate.

Finally, here are some Gloucester fishing boats:




And some from Pigeon Cove:


For the complete gallery of pictures from this visit to Gloucester, please click here.

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The most interesting thing about the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park is the large number of old buildings that have been moved into the park from their original locations. These are not small wood shacks, but rather entire buildings of stone or brick. On one street, most of the buildings came from somewhere else. Much of this relocation is due to the efforts of WHALE (Waterfront Historic Area LeaguE), which has an impressive record of historic preservation.

One building which has not been moved is the New Bedford Custom House:


It was completed in 1836 and is the oldest continuously operating custom house in the United States. The New York Times had an interesting article about the custom house:


New Bedford is also home to the Seamen’s Bethel:


Herman Melville wrote about the bethel in chapter VII of Moby Dick:

In this same New Bedford there stands a Whaleman’s Chapel, and few are the moody fishermen, shortly bound for the Indian Ocean or Pacific, who fail to make a Sunday visit to the spot.

He also described the cenotaphs (from the Greek for empty tomb) that adorn the bethel’s walls. Here’s one:


Melville wrote of the chapel’s pulpit:

Its panelled front was in the likeness of a ship’s bluff bows, and the Holy Bible rested on a projecting piece of scroll work, fashioned after a ship’s fiddle-headed beak.

Here’s how Rockwell Kent illustrated it:


And here’s Orson Welles preaching from the pulpit in the 1956 movie:


The only problem was that the real Seamen’s Bethel did not have a pulpit like that—at least not until throngs of tourists arrived there asking to see the pulpit. Now it has one:


New Bedford’s working waterfront is alive with all sorts of fishing boats. Fortunately for us we were there on a Sunday—there was not much work happening, but there were tons of boats at the docks:



There was also a most-interesting fountain of a Greek god standing atop all sorts of sea creatures:


New Bedford is also home to the schooner Ernestina, ex-Effie M. Morrisey. For some reason there are no booms or gaffs on the masts of this 115-year-old boat (perhaps due to current restoration work?), so this is the most nautical shot I could get:


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During our recent tour of New England we visited the Portland Head Light. This lighthouse was built over four years, from 1787 to 1791. Its construction was initiated by George Washington.





Two years ago when we visited the lighthouse, the conditions were quite different, lending a very “Maine” feel to the scene:



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Here are more images from our one-day visit to Gloucester. This is the schooner Thomas E. Lannon sailing out of the harbor:


A close-up shot of the Fishermen’s Wives Memorial:


A few fishing boats:




Four views of a Gloucester icon (and two with two icons):





This last Gloucester fishing boat was far from home. The picture was taken at Sea Travelers Marina in Brooklyn, where we keep Puffin. I wonder what it was doing there.


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We are currently touring New England with the kids. It’s a car trip, but we’re sticking close to the water. Today we arrived in Gloucester, MA. After reading The Last Fish Tale and stumbling upon some Gloucester blogs (see related post), I knew I had to come to Gloucester sooner rather than later. Joey of GoodMorningGloucester was incredibly helpful with advice on visiting his hometown. (His blog is a fantastic compilation of photos, videos, and news from America’s oldest fishing port.)

Upon our arrival in town, we made the obligatory stop at the Man at the Wheel, the Gloucester Fishermen’s Memorial.


From there we proceeded straight to Captain Joe & Sons to try to find Joey. He wasn’t hard to find:


When we got there, he was busy crating up lobsters and herring:


We chatted a bit, and he suggested some places to visit. So we headed off to the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center, but first we had lunch:


There is a great pier behind the heritage center, and we sat there for a while as I took billions of pictures. Fishing boats of all varieties were headed out to sea:



Finally, heeding the call of our stomachs, we left the pier and headed for dinner, which we ate at Halibut Point, located in the building where Howard Blackburn had his inn.

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