2012 Cape Ann Guide – Experience Cape Ann…serving Essex, Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Rockport. Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce.
Issue link: http://capeannguide.epubxp.com/i/671851
capeannvacations.com 7 In 1605 when the French explorer Samuel de Champlain stopped at Cape Ann on his way down the coast of North America, he found a lush abundance of life on a beautiful rocky shore dotted with sandy beaches. The water was pink with the petals of the wild rose, the air scented with them. Grapes were ripening on the vine. Walnut, cypress, oak, beech and sassafras trees abounded. And the native inhabitants were tending felds of corn and pumpkin. He named it Le Beau Port. Eighteen years later a group of 'surplus' men were dropped off at Cape Ann by a ship belonging to the Dorchester Company of England. They were part of a radical new fshing concept where the extra crewmen, carried on board fshing vessels to process the catch, were to build a permanent encampment where they would remain over winter instead of returning to England with the rest of the crew at the end of the season. They were called surplus men because they were not needed to sail the vessel. This plan saved both time and money otherwise spent in building new drying racks each year, and avoided the necessity of double-provisioning the ships for the return voyage. These men were the frst non- native settlers of Cape Ann. Gloucester In 1642 the Massachusetts Bay Colony set aside the rocky land beyond the Annisquam and named it Gloucester. The new settlers homesteaded and fshed, but the area was also thickly wooded; so initially timber, not fsh, was Gloucester's primary export. About 40 of these early settlers built houses in the heart of Cape Ann in an area called Dogtown, a place of myth and mystery even today. In the 1700s it was occupied by some of our wealthiest citizens, and provided a safe refuge from both the occasional pirate and marauding French and British ships. Nothing now remains of this once thriving community but its cellar holes. During the Great Depression, local philanthropist Roger W. Babson hired out-of-work stone cutters to carve inspirational sayings into 23 of the large boulders dotting the area. At the same time he donated 1,150 acres of Dogtown to the City of Gloucester for use as a park and watershed, which currently offers rich recreational opportunities to hikers, bikers, dog-walkers, cross-country skiers, horseback riders and nature lovers. Gloucester also had a good, safe harbor with easy access to the rich off shore fshing grounds; so over time the major industry gradually changed to fshing. In 1713 the schooner, which became the country's foremost fshing vessel for more than 200 years, was frst designed and built in Gloucester. By the early 1800s shipbuilding was increasing and the fshing feet was traveling to the Grand Banks after halibut. In 1879 there were almost 450 fshing vessels in town employing over 5,000 men and landing more than 91 million pounds of fsh. But all this came with a price. That same year 32 vessels and 266 men were lost, half of them in a single February storm. In 1883 the young Cape Ann: An American Story In The Beginning Flake Yard, Harbor Cove, 1890s, Herman W. Spooner ©Cape Ann Museum Gloucester's entry in the 1893 Chicago World Fair ©Cape Ann Museum