Ellisville Harbor State Park

Ellisville Harbor is a state park located along the southern coast of Plymouth, not far from Sandwich and the Cape Cod Canal. Previously a farm owned by the Ellis and Harlow families, the place largely consists of overgrown fields where crops may have been planted. The old salt marsh remains, connected to the waters of Cape Cod Bay by a narrow inlet. The bluff that was once the site of the farm and homestead gives way to a steep hill, leading down to a beach with broad views of the Southeastern side of Cape Cod Bay. Steep sand dunes line the shore here and continue South down the coast.

Below, a panoramic view of the salt marsh, sand dune and beach of Ellisville: 

Ellisville pan 1It is said that this place was a fishing and hunting grounds for Native Americans for thousands of years. However, the inlet is said to have only formed in the 1700s, when it was presumably broken open in a storm. Henry David Thoreau documented a night’s stay at the Ellis Farm when in transit to Cape Cod….that was in June 1857.


EllisvilleEllisville 1




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Spinnaker Island, Once Called Hog Island

Once known as Hog Island, the island now known as Spinnaker Island lies south of Point Allerton, Hull in the Northern section of Hingham Bay. Today, the island is connected to the mainland via a long causeway. The island was renamed Spinnaker in the late 1980s when it was purchased by a developer and turned into condominiums and a marina. Pictured below is a south-looking view of Spinnaker Island as seen from the top of Fort Revere in Hull:

hull fort

Like most of the other Boston Harbor Islands, Hog Island was once used for military operations. Remnants of the island’s fortifications at Fort Duvall are still visible around the modern residential buildings on the island. It has been said that the battery casemate at the Fort was too difficult to demolish, so instead it was kept in place and built around. This is not surprising when considering these fortifications were built to withstand an enemy attack.

A view of Modern Spinnaker Island, with the Battery Casemate of Fort Duvall visible below:

boston harbor

The wartime operation of Hog Island certainly impacted civilian life around the town of Hull. This was particularly documented by an article* describing one afternoon in September 1942, when the guns at Fort Duvall did a practice drill, firing massive 16-inch shells at targets offshore. More than two thousand residents of Hull had to be evacuated for the drill, and many residents returned to find windows that were shattered by the force of the blasts. Thankfully these big guns never had to be used, but they were certainly ready to defend the City of Boston in the event of a coastal invasion.

The main battery casemate at Spinnaker Island up close:


Following the end of WWII, Fort Duvall was decommissioned, and its space was used as the fire control and radar system for a nearby NIKE missile system located on Weymouth Neck (what is now Webb Park). Pictured below is a view from Spinnaker Island of the narrow neck of Hull, with the Brewsters in the background:

Spinnaker view

Below is a view of the sunset over Spinnaker Island. This view, looking southwest from mainland Hull is taken from a location near the Hull Yacht Club. Spinnaker Island provides a natural barrier around the area of Allerton Harbor protecting the docks and moorings at Hull Yacht club from more open water. However, boats transiting this area must beware of the long shallow bar which extends east from the southeastern end of Spinnaker Island. Below one can see Spinnaker Island to the left, the long causeway in the center, and the silhouette of Blue Hill in the distance. Fort Revere’s water tower is visible to the right, protruding from the top of Hull’s Pemberton Point.

Hull_Sunset_2*Windows Smashed at Hull as Army Fires 16-in. Guns. Boston Daily Globe, Sept 5, 1942.

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Historic Places of the Massachusetts Coast: The John Alden House

The John Alden house is the only standing house in Massachusetts that was built by an original Mayflower passenger. Located in Duxbury, Ma, it is believed to be the 11th oldest standing house in the state.


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Frozen Boston Harbor

February 2015 will likely go down in history for its snow and ice. The rivers that empty into the southern side of the harbor have become particularly backed up ice, that has extended far into the harbor, and has been more severe than the ice of January 2013. Below are some photos…

grape island

Above, a frozen buoy marking the entrance to Hewitt’s Cove, with Grape Island in the background. Below is a view of frozen Hingham Bay looking toward the city:

Hingham Bay

Sunrise over the ice on Hingham Harbor:

hingham harbor

Ice flows at Hingham Shipyard Marina in Hewitt’s Cove:

Hewitts cove ice

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Moon Island and the Old Boston Drainage System


Relatively obscure and not open to the public, Moon Island is only used today for police and fire training activities. However, the island may be most notable for once being the collection and discharge site of Boston’s old sewer system. This system, somewhat effective until outgrown by the city, was temporarily replaced the in the 1950s and 1960s with plants at Nut Island and Deer Island, before the massive modern system at Deer Island was fully operational in the early part of last decade. From a central collection center at the Dorchester Calf Pasture, sewage was collected and pumped through a tunnel under Dorchester Bay to Squantum, and then out to Moon Island via the large, above-ground causeway which still connects Moon Island to the mainland today. The sewage was then collected in pools and discharged at high tide, with the design that the raw sewage would flow out between Long Island and Rainsford Island, and then out to open ocean through Black Rock Channel. As Boston’s population grew over the years, this system lost its effectiveness, resulting in reports sewage washing up on shore. Some relics of this old system can still be seen around Moon Island today.

Designed and approved in 1875, the first phase of the the project- a tunnel under Dorchester Bay-was completed by July 1883. The land purchased by the city on Squantum for the plant was said to previously been a farm owned by Elijah Davis. City Sewer connections were made in early 1884 and the system was substantially fully operational by 1885. Reports about the system published in 1897* stated that 7,416,000 bricks and 32,277 barrels of cement were used to complete the project. Various estimates of the total cost are cited, but it was said to be over six million dollars at the time. The use of the system was discontinued in 1968 but made available for emergency overflow operations for several years thereafter. Relics of the system can be seen on and around Moon Island today.

* “Sewerage System Completed” Boston Daily Globe, January 16, 1897

An operational overview of the old sewage system is described in great detail in an 1888 publication called The Main Drainage Works of the City of Boston” which was published by Rockwell and Churchill and written by Eliot C. Clark, the Chief Engineer of the city at the time. This publication includes some great historical photos. Similar to the photo at the top of the page, below are two views of the large granite-walled pools which would collect sewage until it was ready to be discharged into the harbor with the outgoing tide:

boston harbor

Several vintage views of the facility when it was brand new can be seen opposite p.83 in the Main Drainage Works of the City of Boston.

bosotn ma

The remains of two outflow pipes on the Northwest side of Moon Island, where the sewage would be released with the outgoing tide. This photo is taken near low tide, the openings are submerged at high tide:

moon island sewer

A clip from The Main Drainage Works of the City of Boston, showing the main station located at the Calf Pasture in the background, and the brick pumping house on the edge of the bay. This photo was taken during a winter (note the frozen bay) some time in the 1880s, between the pumping station’s construction, but before this publication in 1888:

Calf Pasture

Source: The Main Drainage Works of the City of Boston, Plate XVIII, (opposite page 68). Photo believed to be in the public domain by nature of publication date (1888).

The remains of the old pumping house (East of the main station on the shores of Dorchester Bay) at Columbia point as it stands today:

boston sewer

A closer view reveals cracks in the wall and a roof that has partially caved in:

old calf pasture sewage plant

The old Calf Pasture pumping station (located in the background of the 1880s vintage photo three above), as seen from the vicinity of the JFK library on a winter day:

boston sewer

Below is a distant view of the pump house as seen across Dorchester Bay from the system’s East Shaft on Squantum. A little known fact is that the rock outcrop in the middle- known as “Thimble Island” on charts, is actually the middle shaft of the old sewer tunnel under Dorchester Bay, as is outlined on the diagram opposite p.74 in the Main Drainage Works:

Dorchester Bay

A modern day fire drill in progress at the fire training facility on the North side of Moon Island, as seen across the Western Way from Spectacle Island. On occasion, one can see the smoke rising from the fire test facility on the island. On a calm night, one standing nearby may also be able to hear gunfire from the police shooting range facility that is now located in the old sewer vats:

boston harbor

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Sunset over Boston from the Air

skyline view

A view of the Boston City Skyline from the air, while on approach to Logan Airport.

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Old wharf pilings at Weymouth Neck

Back River

The old wharf pilings at Weymouth Neck, on the north bank of the Weir River as it meets Hewitt’s Cove. The pilings were once part of a large fertilizer plant up until it was shut down in the 1960s. An aerial photo of the plant can be seen here (third photo from top):

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Autumn Sunset Views

Looking East over Nantasket Beach as the sun sets behind: Friday October 1oth.

autumn sunset

Sunset over the Wier River in Hingham on Saturday, October 11th:


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The Ruins of Misery Island

The large Island called Misery lying at the top of Salem Sound was once a popular summer resort- it once even had a casino on its premises. Its decline as a resort was caused in large part by a massive fire in May of 1926, but the remnants of some of the old island cottages can be seen today. The Island is open to the public and owned by the Trustees of Reservations. Pictured below is the Bleak House, once a private residence, located on the Southwestern side of the island:

misery island

The ruins of the Bleak House as seen from the Southwestern side of Misery Island:

boston harbor

An old doorway down to the ocean on the North side of the ruins of the Bleak House:

bleak house

From this hill on the North side of the island where the casino ruins are located, there is a clear view all the way North to Manchester and Gloucester. House Island and Misery Island Cove are visible in the foreground:

house island

A staircase near the old casino ruins on the North side of the island:

misery island

A very large, sprawling oak tree is located on the Western side of the island. By the look of it, the tree must be several hundred years old.

salem sound

Pictured below is the ruins of the old water tower on Misery Island. Several old photos of the water tower were published by the Boston Globe on May 9th and 10th, 1926, documenting the great fire that swept the island.

House Island and what is known as Sauli Rock (green marker) as seen from Misery Island:

lobster point manchester

A view of Baker’s Island and Little Misery from the South side of Misery Island, in a scene perhaps more fitting of Downeast Maine than the coast of Massachusetts Bay.

bakers island

The wreck of the Steamer Monohansett, which wrecked in a storm on the Eastern side of the island near Little Misery in 1904. (This is not to be mistaken with the City of Rockland, a vessel scuttled nearby, the remain of which are visible today-The Monohansett was removed). If one looks carefully, the photo shows one of the intact island homes of the time in the background. Clearly, it exhibits similar architecture of square, rock columns as the ruins that remain today. The home pictured is believed to be that belonging to Charles S. Hanks, a prominent businessman of the time. Source: Wikimedia Commons. 

Monohansett wrecked 1904

Cruising up through the Salem sound to Misery Island is a pleasant ride if one can navigate its many ledges and rock outcrops. Below is a view of the Salem Sound looking Southwest from Misery Island. In the distance, Children’s Island and the beacon on Satan Rock are visible. In the far distance, the shores of Cohasset and Scituate are visible.

salem sound

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Picture of the week: Hingham Harbor at Dusk

A view of Hingham Harbor at dusk, as seen from World’s End:

World's End Sunset

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