Our second stop for our first day in Massachusetts would be a bit further north than Salem: Gloucester.
Located on Cape Ann in northeastern Massachusetts, the city of Gloucester is not only a popular summer tourist spot, but also developed into a major shipbuilding center. The first schooner is believed to have been built here in 1713. Its proximity to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland helped it grow into a major fishing center, as well.
Gloucester, for all its charm and opulence (some of the homes are amazing,) is still a working fishing port, first and foremost. The sea, or maybe it's just the idea of the sea, is treated with a reverence not commonly found. As an example, there's the Gloucester Compass Rose:
| "The Gloucester Compass Rose", is located near Maritime Gloucester (a museum)... |
There's a rock with a plaque nearby, with the following inscription:
"Maritime Gloucester dedicates
The Gloucester Compass Rose
To All Those Who Harvest and Preserve
The Bounty of Our Great Oceans
May 24, 2014"
|Some of the stately homes along the waterfront...|
The late 19th century saw a large influx of immigrants from both Portugal and Italy looking to find work in the growing fishing industry. As more and more fishermen arrived, more and more fishing vessels were able to sail. Of course, the increased number of vessels heading out to sea meant that the chances of accidents grew accordingly.
Along the harbor waterfront you can find the Gloucester Fisherman's Memorial. The Memorial lists the names of 5,368 of those who sailed from Gloucester but have never returned. Of the nearly 1,000 ships lost to the sea, 265 of them are known to have been lost with all hands. From 1860-1906, a staggering 660 ships sank at sea; more than 14 per year, every year, for 46 years. There were a total of 3,880 men lost during that time.
Perched at the Memorial is the 8-foot sculpture "Man At The Wheel", which was modeled after Capt. Clayton Morrissey, a prominent Gloucester fisherman:
Now, admittedly, the impact of the loss of Gloucester fishermen at sea really didn't have much impact much beyond Gloucester. Most people in the rest of the country rarely, if ever, heard of such a thing. That is until Wolfgang Peterson's movie "The Perfect Storm" was released in 2000.
The movie tells the true story of the fishing vessel Andrea Gail and her crew finding themselves at the confluence of three gigantic Atlantic storms, something that had never occurred in recorded history. The Captain and crew decided to try to sail through the storm, as sailing around it would've taken much longer and threatened to spoil their impressive catch. The decision proved fatal as the ship, and all six crew members, were lost to the deep. It's believed a 100' wave off the coast of Nova Scotia, recorded by a buoy, sent the Andrea Gail to the bottom of the North Atlantic.
If you're at the Fisherman's Memorial looking towards the harbor, you can turn to the right of the Memorial and see those six names:
|The lost crew of the Andrea Gail...|
|The Man At The Wheel overlooking the Fisherman's Memorial...|
|I'm not sure who put this at the Memorial, but it seems to be appropriately placed. If I were to hazard a guess, it's a young boy's lament over the loss of his father, a fisherman lost to the sea...|
The day had gotten a bit long and we still had the hour drive back to Ken's house in Billerica, so we decided to call it a day. Between Salem and Gloucester we'd seen a lot and, also, learned a lot.
If you happen to be visiting the Boston area, be sure to make time to visit Gloucester...