Sunday, August 22, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 62: Cohasset, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 62:  Cohasset, Mass.
July 8, 2010

            Before visiting the seaside town of Cohasset I had one idea of what it would be like, and after leaving I had a totally different opinion.  I originally had thought that Cohasset was a town centered around a top attraction which sat a mile offshore in Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse.  As amazing as the story and, albeit limited, view of the lighthouse is I came to discover that there is so much more to Cohasset than just Minot’s Ledge Light. 
The third lens from Minot's Ledge Light.
            I began my trip with a visit to the Cohasset Sailing Club which during this time of year was sprinkled with many vessels.  There is a major connection to Minot’s Ledge Light on the grounds as well.  It is here that the third lens from Minot’s Ledge Light is kept, unfortunately without a boat it was the closest that I will get to the lighthouse itself.  The area around the Sailing Club was one that I stopped and enjoyed for a while.  From kids jumping off of the bridge on Border Street, to people going in and out on their boats, and even a few dogs enjoying a swim, it was a great scene. 
            The next area I went to is not necessarily one place, but the views are something that must be taken in.  Taking a drive along Atlantic Avenue will really give you a sense of what makes Cohasset special.  I had to stop my car and get out at one particular place where Atlantic Avenue turns into Jerusalem Road.  It was here on a corner that there is a magnificent view to the north of the Boston skyline and Boston Harbor from a height of probably fifty-feet.  When I turned to the south there was the small grey finger-like image of Minot’s Ledge Light.  I would have stayed there longer but I had many other places to see.
The view of Boston from Atlantic Avenue.
            I went into the center of Cohasset next to see the amazing Town Common and some of what Main Street had to offer.  The Town Common comes complete with a man-made pond filled with fish, it has several benches and shade-giving trees surrounding it.  As I was taking in the beauty of the Common I heard the ringing of the bells at the neighboring St. Stephen’s Parish.  Normally this would not be a big deal but it became a big deal when I heard the church’s choice in music.  The songs on the list included ‘Rubber Ducky,’ and ‘Sing A Song’ from Sesame Street.  Little things like that make a trip like this stay with me long after I return home.
French Memories
            A short walk from the Common is a place known all across Southeastern Massachusetts: French Memories.  The small bakery on South Main Street is filled with homemade pastries, cakes, and cheeses.  This is topped only by the fact that they serve lunch as well, freshly made sandwiches and soups.  Anne and Jean-Jacques Gabanelle are the owners and they have a fantastic place.  I drove an hour to partake in some of their delicious treats, I think that it was not that far for something that good. 
            Only a short drive up the street from French Memories and the Town Common is a beautiful section of conservation land known as Wheelwright Park.  This is a great area, not too large, the main loop trail takes less than an hour to complete.  There are several places of interest along the route including several boulders with unique names like Big Tippling, Little Tippling, and the Moraine Boulder.  The spot that drew my interest the most was the Devil’s Chair.  This particular rock does not look much different from the others in Wheelwright Park but for the fact that there is a large chunk missing out of the side which gives it the appearance of being a seat.  Of course I had to take a minute to sit down in it, throwing my superstitions out the window.
Minot's Ledge Lighthouse as seen from Sandy Beach.
            The attraction that Cohasset might be best known for is Minot’s Ledge Light.  As I said earlier it sits more than a mile off shore so it is not accessible but by boat.  For the best views of it I recommend the end of Glades Road, North Scituate Beach, or Sandy Beach on Atlantic Avenue.  Although they are not great views and it can be easily obstructed by some large offshore rocks.    
The current Minot’s Ledge Light which stands 114 feet tall is actually the second built on the spot.  The first Minot Light was lit for the first time on New Year’s Day in 1850.  It is reported that the original keeper lived in constant fear of the lighthouse being taken down by the vicious sea.  This man retired after ten short months.  Sadly for the next keeper and his two assistants the fears became reality as the original Minot’s Ledge Light came crashing down during a huge storm in April 1851.  The lighthouse keeper was away at the time trying to procure a new boat but his assistants were killed.  The iron lighthouse littered two miles of beach in the days after the storm. 
The second lighthouse lens from Minot Light was destroyed by vandals before it could be given to the Boston Museum of Science.  The third lens is the one that can be found on the grounds of the Cohasset Sailing Club.  One of the fog bells used at Minot’s Ledge Light is also on display there as well.
Despite possibly being most well known for an attraction more than a mile off shore Cohasset has no shortage of great places to visit.  Make sure to take the time to try a pastry or sandwich at French Memories before taking a walk on the Town Common or a drive on Atlantic Avenue or Glades Road.  Take a seat in the Devil’s Chair or walk the beach to look for Minot’s Ledge Light, you can’t go wrong on a trip through Cohasset.  Have fun and happy traveling!

DirectionsCohasset Sailing Club: From Rt. 3A north turn right onto Henry Turner Bailey Rd., turn left at County Way this becomes S. Main St., turn right onto Summer St. after 1.3 miles.  Follow with a slight right onto Border St., turn left at Government Island Rd. after a half mile.  The club is on the left.  From the Sailing Club, follow Border St., turn right onto Margin Street, turn left onto Atlantic Avenue for a great drive.
            French Memories:  From Rt. 3A north turn right onto Henry Turner Bailey Rd., turn left at County Way this becomes S. Main St., turn right onto Summer St. after 1.3 miles.  Follow with a slight right onto Border St.  Left onto Summer St., quick left onto Elm Street.  Left onto Brook Street and right onto South Main Street.  French Memories is on right side.   The Town Common is a short walk up on the right side.
            Wheelwright Park:  From French Memories take S. Main Street which becomes N. Main Street.  The entrance is 1 mile up on the right.
References:   Minot's Ledge Lighthouse
            French Memories Cohasset
            Cohasset, MA - Town Site

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