Friday, February 5, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 18: Scituate, Cohasset, & Hull, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund
Trip 18: Scituate, Mass.; Cohasset, Mass.; Hull, Mass.
February 3, 2010

            The coastal towns from the Cape Cod Canal up to Boston make up what is called the ‘South Shore.’  Of all of these towns Plymouth is the most well known being that it is the original landing spot of the Mayflower in 1620.  However there are many other towns with just as much history as Plymouth.  A drive along some of the coastal roads will bring you past some amazing waterfront views and some incredible homes.
            My trip began by taking Route 3 north to Exit 12.  I headed east toward the beautiful town of Scituate.  Incorporated in 1636 with a name that comes from the Wampanoag Indian term for ‘cold brook,’ Scituate was primarily a fishing community from the onset.  Route 3A is the main road through Scituate and gives you a great view of the harbor along North River.  On this snowy morning an old fishing house located out in the river near Damons Point Rd. had the look of a 19th Century painting.  It reminded me of how New England must have looked in winter back then.
            The main attraction in Scituate is the historic Old Scituate Lighthouse(left).  Built in 1811 and located on Cedar Point in Scituate this lighthouse played an important role in the War of 1812.  It was on this spot that Rebecca and Abigail Bates, the ‘Lighthouse Army of Two,’ scared off the British troops by playing their drum and fife loudly.  The British feared the sounds were of the approaching Scituate Militia and retreated.  After being out of service for over 130 years the lighthouse was once again made visible from sea to aid passing vessels.  Cedar Point is a magnificent area, close to Museum Beach, with several houses more than a hundred years in age close by.  It retains the feel of a small fishing village and would be perfect to walk on a warmer day.
            A few miles north of Old Scituate Light, and two and a half miles offshore, sits another historic lighthouse: Minot’s Ledge Light.  Located off the coast of Cohasset the best view of this light is from the end of Glades Road, or North Scituate Beach, although they are not great views and it can be easily obstructed by some large offshore rocks.  Cohasset was originally part of Hingham but became its own town in 1670. 
The current Minot’s Ledge Light which stands 97 feet tall is actually the second built on the spot.  The first Minot Light was built in 1850 and was subsequently destroyed in a storm a few months later.  The third lighthouse lens(left) from Minot Light can be found on the grounds of the Cohasset Sailing Club.  The club is located along Cohasset Cove in the Government Island Historic District.  The Cohasset Yacht Club is across the cove with the historic 17th Century Bellarmine House located high on a hill at the end of White Head Road.  It is visible from the Sailing Club as well. 
            Following the coastal roads north next brought me to the little town of Hull.  This peninsula of land, sticking more than two miles out into the water is bordered on the east by Massachusetts Bay and on the west by Hull Bay.  The fourth smallest town in land area in the state, Hull is a thickly settled beach front town.  It is filled with tightly packed houses that all seem right out of early-20th Century postcards.  The main attraction of Hull, besides its tremendous view of the Boston skyline, is Nantasket Beach.  Considered to be one of the finest in New England, the beach is more than a mile in length along the eastern coast of Hull and the Nantasket Beach Reservation is twenty-six acres and includes the fantastic Paragon Carousel.  The sight of this eighty-two year old wonder will surely bring out the child in every adult.  It is open to be ridden beginning in April.
            A hidden gem can be found in an unlikely place.  In a quest to gain a higher vantage point to snap a few photos of Hull I came to Hull Cemetery which sits on Telegraph Hill.  I wanted an even higher shot and after climbing a concrete wall found myself face to face with the awe-inspiring Fort Revere.  Complete with a clear view of the Brewster Islands dotting Massachusetts Bay, this piece of American history can be passed by easily. 
            Fort Revere was built in 1776 and has a clear view from Boston Harbor south to Cohasset Harbor.  Straight out to the east sits the amazing Boston Lighthouse(above).  Located on Little Brewster Island, this current lighthouse was built in 1783 although the station itself was begun in 1716.  Even more amazing is the fact that the island station is shared by the lighthouse with five other houses each more than a hundred years old.  On a clear day the ‘younger’ Graves Lighthouse can be seen behind Boston Light.  Built in 1905, it is grey in color and is best seen by boat.
            Fort Revere(left) is only a maze of concrete tunnels and steps, much like my New Bedford trip this piece of history has been desecrated with graffiti by thoughtless people.  If you can get past that fact it is a great walk.  On the other side of Telegraph Hill sits an octagon-shaped water tower that doubles as an observation tower.  The observation deck is only accessible for a few hours on the first Saturday of the month, best to plan ahead for that.
            There is much more to the South Shore of Massachusetts than Plymouth.  The drive from Scituate up through Hull was one amazing sight after another.  There were some areas that felt like small Midwestern towns with the cozy shops lining the streets.  Then there were endless amounts of incredibly lavish homes each one worthy of a second and third look.  In the end the lighthouses and the walk around Fort Revere will be my lasting memories of this trip.  What will yours be?  Have fun and happy traveling!  
Directions: Old Scituate Light: From Rt. 3 north take Exit 12, merge onto Church Street heading toward Marshfield.  Turn left onto Old Oak St., and continue onto Union St for 3.3 miles.  Union St. becomes Bridge St., turn right onto Rt. 123 for 1.8 miles. Turn onto New Driftway at the rotary, this road becomes New Kent St., Kent St., and Front St. in that order.  Turn right at Jericho Rd. and continue onto light.
            Cohasset 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. 
            Nantasket Beach: On Rt. 3A north turn right onto Rt. 228 North.  Continue onto Hull St. which becomes Nantasket Ave.  There are several beach parking lots on the right.
            Fort Revere: On Rt. 3A north turn right onto Rt. 228 North.  Continue onto Hull St. which becomes Nantasket Ave.  Take a left at Fitzpatrick Way which becomes Nantasket Ave. again.  After a mile take a sharp left at Farina Rd., continue onto Ft. Revere Park.
                     Minot's Ledge Lighthouse
                     Paragon Carousel
                     Boston Light


Jaime D Buckley said...

Great article Christopher!

I'm not well traveled, but I have been to MASS many times and I love lighthouses. Always wanted to stay in one.

I need to do my history, because I never heard of the 'Army of Two', and that fascinates me.

I love your historical information, which lends so much weight and fascination to the pictures. =)

Jaime Buckley

Christopher Setterlund said...

Thank you, I love doing my research as well, I end up learning things about places I have known so well.