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 Cover. 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:

sunset

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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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Langlee Island and the Inner Hingham Harbor

At the far Southeastern end of the greater Boston Harbor lie the islands of Hingham Harbor. There are four rocky outcrops in this sheltered bay once known as Bare Cove to early English settlers: Langlee Island, Sarah Island, Ragged Island and Button Island.

Langlee is the outermost, sitting between the Hingham Yacht Club on Crow point, and the fields of Planter’s Hill on World’s End. Button Island is the closest to shore and most visible. The terrain of the islands is comprised of rock, and the long, low cliffs that line its shores bear the high water mark that is visible at low tide. Below is view of Hingham Harbor and the Boston Skyline, looking Northwest from the cliffs on the North side of Langlee Island:

Long view hingham

According to The History of the Town of Hingham, which was published by the town in 1893, a gentleman by the name of John Langlee purchased the island in 1686- a purchase from which it derived its current name. Langlee was likely born in England and came “in early life” to Hingham according to the documents. It is likely that nearby Sarah island was such named due to the fact that was a popular name in the family: Langlee’s wife, daughter and granddaughter were all named Sarah. The latter became Sarah Derby, as she married a member of the well know Derby family of Salem, for which Derby Wharf is named. She is also known as the founder of Derby Academy in Hingham. John Langlee lived in what is now downtown Hingham, and today has a street bearing his name in Hingham near crow point.

A conveniently placed sign on the island, letting you know you have arrived:

Hingham Harbor

Pictured below is a small cove on the Eastern side of Langlee which allows access for small boats:

hingham

Looking South from Langlee Island, towards the other Hingham Harbor Islands, Sarah Island and Ragged Island:

Hingham Bay

At low tides, sometimes these islands are nearly connected to land, as can be seen in the link. Another interesting perspective can be seen here, featuring the Hingham Harbor Islands, Grape Island and World’s End as seen from an airplane before landing at Logan Airport. Below is a view of Langlee island and some of the moorings on Hingham Harbor as seen from the hills of World’s End:

Langlee Worlds End

Hingham Harbor on a foggy, fall day, with the air so calm there is hardly a ripple on the water. Button Island, the smallest of the bunch can be seen in the foreground:

Button Island

The Hingham Yacht club as seen from the cliffs of Langley Island, with the City of Boston in the background:

boston harbor

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Summer Views of Peddocks Island

Last week, I returned to Peddocks Island for the first time in over a year. It was a bright blue sky day. The island was very ho, and the grass and brush of the island’s long, low-lying center was very dry having been bleached by the sun this entire dry summer.  Elsewhere, I was pleasantly surprised by the work that had been done to fully update the old chapel near the island’s main dock in Hull Gut. Check out the pictures below, and while you are at it, take a look at some previous photos of Peddocks including those of Fort Andrews and the island in the early Spring, and the Prince Head on the Southeastern side of the island.

Hingham bay and the tug boat anchorages on the Island’s East side:

east harbor

A stark view of dry brush surrounds the main trail as the sun beats down:

boston harbor

A rusty old automobile chassis is one of the many relics one can find when walking through the high grasses on the long, flat tombolos (geological name for a sandbar) on the island:

peddocks island

Looking West toward the city from the shores of Perry Cove:

peddocks

Summer sunset over Peddocks:

Boston Harbor Sunset

Looking towards the West Head from one of the higher points on the East Head. From this view point, one can see how long the shoreline of Peddocks Island is- in fact, it has the longest shoreline of any of the Boston Harbor Islands.

Boston Harbor

Looking back on the trail toward the East Head, where Fort Andrews is located:

Boston harbor trails

A previous photo taken from a similar vantage point at the opposite time of the year (early March). Somewhat of an interesting contrast:

winter paddocks contrast

Following the old trail further as it goes into the woods in the island’s middle head. A small village of fisherman’s homes- some occupied but many abandoned- lies off this main road.

Peddocks Island

The leaves of many plants seemed to have started to turn yellow and orange as early as August, perhaps due to our hot, dry summer:

Peddocks Hingham Bay

The old brick buildings near the parade ground on a late summer day:

Peddocks Summer

An old engine block, revealed by the low tide. I tried to make out a brand or some markings, but the sea had her too long. Nothing was recognizable.

Peddocks Island

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A Squantum View: The Boston Harbor in Contrasts

Below is a panoramic view of Squantum seen earlier on this bright, blue sky Saturday, where the east wind whipped up whitecaps across the blue sea which mirrored those clear skies:                                                         

                                                                        (Click to enlarge)

boston harbor

This view of this incredible place on a gorgeous late summer day shows off what modern Boston Harbor is all about….a scene of great contrasts, as some of the places that have historically been the harbor’s dirtiest and nastiest now look so beautiful!  I feel fortunate to be a beneficiary of the progress this city has made at cleaning up the harbor.

Consider the following:

The large pipe of the east shaft of Boston’s 1880s-vintage sewer system is in the foreground- a system that would dump raw sewage daily into the outgoing tide as late as the early 1980′s. But today, this long-shut system sits as a relic in front of  glistening, clean water surrounding our cityscape in the background.

To the left is Thompson Island, and further behind that lies the high drumlins of Spectacle Island. The latter, once the home of a toxic dump and rendering factory, is now home to the tree-lined trails of a National Park. Barely visible behind Spectacle are the blades of Deer Island’s wind turbines, generating renewable energy for a water treatment plant that keeps the harbor’s waters clean.

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Photo of the week: Liberty Clipper in Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor

 

The Liberty Clipper in Boston Harbor on a calm day. This view is looking East from the inner harbor.

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Hangman Island: A low lying rock outcrop in Quincy Bay

City View

Located in the center of Quincy Bay, Hangman Island is comprised of several small, low lying rock outcrops connected by sandbars. Lacking prominence, the island is often only noticed as one passes through the Western Way channel and looks south. Even from points along the Quincy shoreline, one might only notice Hangman Island when gazing across its landscape at low tide, when the bay is littered with flats and pools.

A brief history: I have heard it said that Hangman’s Island was named for its original eighteenth century inhabitant, a Norfolk county hangman who after overseeing many executions became a miserable old hermit and occupied the island in solitary isolation. However, the King’s Handbook of Boston Harbor suggests that this story is likely untrue, as it reports that the location was labeled “Hayman’s Island” on a chart published in London in 1775, giving rise to the idea that the name the island was after some gentleman named Hayman, and that the previous story was just contrived over time.

It is said that the City of Quincy never took possession of the island, and I have read that when a businessman named Putnam once tried to obtain a deed to the  island in the early nineteenth century, neither the mayor of Quincy nor John Adams knew who owned the pile of rocks. The island did have inhabitants over the years, the names of many are listed by Edward Rowe Snow in “The Islands of Boston Harbor”. There are no known military structures on the island, but there are some remains of a structure which suggests the island certainly once did have some development. The photo below shows some type of old frame board ridded with nails. It may have once been part of a bigger structure. It also illustrates just how close the island is to downtown Boston given the perspective of the Prudential tower in the backdrop:

quincy bay

A view of Hangman Island at low tide, with Rainsford Island and and Long Island both visible in the background. At high tide, the island is much less visible. I have read that the shallow flats around Hangman formed from dumping fill that was produced from the Western Way channel excavation. When traveling in that channel, as the Hingham Ferry does daily, Hangman Island is visible to the south of the Channel about half way between Nut Island and the Long Island Bridge.

rainsford

A full, low tide view of Hangman Island, looking West toward Thompson Island and the City of Boston:

Quincy Bay

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The Gurnet Point Light

Plymouth

Gurnet Point is an isolated outcrop of land lying at the end of the Duxbury Peninsula and located within the Town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Accessible only by driving over sand, the area is far removed from other parts of the South Shore and is more easily viewed by boat than from automobile. At the end of this sandy point lies some drumlins or cliffs similar to those found to the North in Scituate, and on top of the highest point sits the Gurnet Light, which served over the centuries as a beacon to guide ships safely into the ports of Plymouth and Duxbury.

What may not be as well known is that Gurnet Point was once outfitted with not one, but two lighthouses, or a pair of “range lights” as they were called. Like many locations in Massachusetts Bay situated near a major shipping channel-such as Spectacle Island, Lovell’s Island and Baker’s Island- two range lights were constructed to guide ships into port by following the trajectory in which the lights could be seen converging. Likely driven by the advent of more modern technology, the range lights which stood for over one hundred years were replaced in December 1923 by the single lighthouse structure that stands today. Pictured below is one of the Fresnel Lenses (3rd order) which sat atop one of the Gurnet range lights, until it was finally taken down in 1923 and placed in the Hull Lifesaving Museum:

Gurnet Light

As one can image, the documented history of the Gurnet Point goes back quite a bit further than the construction of its new lighthouse in 1923. The peninsula was likely named for a Gurnet Point in England by early British colonists, and this point was most certainly viewed by the original Pilgrims as they entered Plymouth Harbor in 1620. However, an earlier known reference to the area was recorded: In a 1613 account of Champlain, he described the are as “almost an island, covered with trees, principally pines”.*  The dense pines indigenous to the area likely have lent name to the High Pines outcrop lying less that two miles to the North and the High Pines ledge located just offshore.

* “Life at the Gurnet”, Boston Daily Globe, December 27th, 1896

Gurnet point had a well known lifesaving station, as did Manomet Point located several miles to the South- both were known to exist since the 1700′s. During revolutionary times, the area around Gurnet was home to a fortified earthwork which was occupied by up to sixty soldiers. In the war of 1812, the fort was refitted and reportedly sank a British ship which came within firing range. The fort was rebuilt during the Civil War, and renamed Fort Andrew (not to be confused with Fort Andrews at Peddocks Island). The Fort was named for John Albion Andrew, who was governor of Massachusetts during the civil war and a fervent abolitionist. While the outline of the original earthworks is very visible from any aerial view of the Gurnet Point, the exposed brick structures below the lighthouse in the first photo at the top of the page may have belonged to the original fort as well.

Gurnet Point as viewed from the approach into Plymouth Harbor and Duxbury Bay:

plymouth

Below is a view of Gurnet Point and Clark’s Island looking South, with the dunes of Cape Cod’s bay side distantly visible in the background. The photo was taken from the top of the Standish Memorial in Duxbury:

plymouth

A chart of Gurnet Point, south of the Duxbury Peninsula, but situated at the north entrance of Plymouth Bay:

gurnet light

NOAA Nautucal Chart. See NOAA.gov for disclaimer.

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