Our friend Bill Sargent reminded me that Massachusetts has the highest probability of all of the states to be hit by an ocean storm, when you include hurricanes and nor’easters. Here are a few stories…
The ”October Gale” of 1841 - A strong hurricane stayed offshore of the Carolinas in early October, 1841 As it continued moving north, it pulled cold air into its circulation and intensified as an extra-tropical storm, with a direct hit on New England on October 3. The Georges Bank fishing fleet was destroyed with the loss of 81 fishermen’s lives. The storm wrecked at least 190 vessels … Continue reading The ”October Gale” of 1841
Deluge! An Eyewitness Account of the Mother’s Day Storm of 2006 - The spring of 2006 brought a paucity of rain that resulted in very dry conditions throughout Eastern New England. I remember noting the dryness of the landscape while patrolling through April into early May. Places normally exhibiting pools of standing water; the low ground west of Route One, Town Farm Road, and the Greenbelt property … Continue reading Deluge! An Eyewitness Account of the Mother’s Day Storm of 2006
Ipswich after a snowstorm, circa 1900 - This photo was taken by Ipswich photographer George Dexter in the late 19th or early 20th Century from Town Hill above High Street, in the vicinity of Highland Cemetery. The First Church and Methodist Church steeples are in the background. Snow-covered Heartbreak Hill rises in the distance. Copies of this photo are in early print publications, but … Continue reading Ipswich after a snowstorm, circa 1900
Awful Calamities: the Shipwrecks of December, 1839 - Featured image: Ships off Liverpool in the Great Storm of 1839, painted by Samuel Walters. From: “Awful calamities: or, The shipwrecks of December 1839: “It has probably never fallen to the lot of the citizens of New England to witness or record so many terrible disasters by sea in the short period of fourteen days as have transpired … Continue reading Awful Calamities: the Shipwrecks of December, 1839
The Great Snow Hurricane of October 9, 1804 - At about nine o’clock in the morning of Tuesday, October 9, 1804, the temperature fell very suddenly, and a storm of rain and snow, accompanied by thunder and lightning, began. In the southern portion of New England the rain fell in extraordinary quantities until the wind grew less violent, when snow began to fall, continuing … Continue reading The Great Snow Hurricane of October 9, 1804
Hurricane Carol, September 6, 1954 - These photos were taken after the September 6, 1954 storm knocked down trees and power lines all over Ipswich. Hurricane Carol devastated the Massachusetts south coast and Rhode Island, and was responsible for 65 deaths in New England and $642 million in damage. On September 11, Hurricane Edna hit New England with additional destruction. This image shows … Continue reading Hurricane Carol, September 6, 1954
Wreck of the Watch and Wait, August 24, 1635 - Many ships and lives were lost in the Great Colonial Hurricane, including 21 passengers who had set out from Ipswich on August 21, 1635 on a small bark named “Watch and Wait.” As they rounded Cape Ann they were suddenly met by the force of the winds. Reverend John Avery, his wife and six children and … Continue reading Wreck of the Watch and Wait, August 24, 1635
The Ipswich lighthouse - Benjamin Ellsworth was appointed keeper of the Ipswich lighthouse by Abraham Lincoln in 1861. With his daughter Susan, he remained at the station until his death in 1902. In 1837 the U.S. government erected two 29′ towers for guidance to the mouth of the Ipswich River along with a lightkeeper’s residence. The lighthouses were aligned … Continue reading The Ipswich lighthouse
Mothers Day Flood, May 14-16, 2006 - Fourteen inches of rain fell between May 14 and May 16, 2006, creating the historic 2006 Mothers Day Flood. Water flow levels in the Ipswich River were 27% higher than recorded in previous epic floods. Photos are from the Ipswich River Watershed Association site with additonal photos provided by myself and readers. Kerry Mackin was at that time director of … Continue reading Mothers Day Flood, May 14-16, 2006
John Winthrop’s journal of the ship Arbella’s voyage to America, March 29 – July 8, 1630 - On April 7, 1630, the Arabella was a week out from its port in England, and the last well-wishers returned to shore. The winds were finally favorable, and the ship weighed anchor and sailed for New England, with Governor John Winthrop and approximately 300 English Puritans on board, leaving their homes in England to settle in a fledgling colony.
The Great White Hurricane, March 11, 1888 - The Great White Hurricane of 1888 struck on the night of March 11 and continued furiously for two days, dumping as much as 60 inches of snow on parts of the Northeast. It was one of the worst blizzards in U.S. history, killing 400 and paralyzing the East Coast from the Chesapeake to Maine. Read … Continue reading The Great White Hurricane, March 11, 1888
A romantic tale from the Great Snow of Feb. 21-24, 1717 - Snowstorms on the 20th and 24th of February 1717 covered the earth up to 20 ft. deep. In some places houses were completely buried, and paths were dug from house to house under the snow. A widow in Medford burned her furniture to keep the children warm.
Death in a snowstorm, December 1, 1722 - On December 1, 1722, Daniel Rogers was returning to Ipswich from a court case in Hampton and took a wrong turn that led deep into Salisbury marshes. His body was found a few days later near Salisbury beach. Suspicion fell on one Moses Gatchel but no charges were filed, there being a lack of solid evidence.
The Spectre Ship of Salem - Cotton Mather related the tale of a doomed ship called “Noah’s Dove” which left Salem during the late 17th century for England. Among the passengers were “a young man and a passing beautiful girl pale and sorrowful, whom no one knew and who held communion with no one.” Many people in Salem supposed them to be demons … Continue reading The Spectre Ship of Salem
The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel, August 25, 1635 - Featured image: Pemaquid Point plaque commemorating the wreck of the Angel Gabriel On the last Wednesday of May, 1635, the Angel Gabriel, a 240 ton ship set out from England, bound for New England. The ship had been commissioned as the Starre for Sir Walter Raleigh’s last expedition to America in 1617. It was stout … Continue reading The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel, August 25, 1635
Wrecks of the sand schooners - These are photos of two-masted sand schooners, several of which wrecked at Steep Hill Beach, Crane Beach and Plum Island. Featured image: Wreckage on Steep Hill Beach believed to be the Ada K. Damon is frequently exposed by the changing tide and sands. Photo by Bruce Lord. Sand schooners delivered sand from local beaches to Boston … Continue reading Wrecks of the sand schooners
Jane Hooper, the fortune teller - This story is adapted from the Reminiscences of Joseph Smith and Reminiscences of a Nonagenarian and brings together no less than four incredible old tales. Jane Hooper was in 1760 a Newburyport “school dame” but after she lost that job she found fame as a fortune teller and became known in our area as “Madam Hooper, the Witch.” The Madam had very bright … Continue reading Jane Hooper, the fortune teller
Adrift on a Haystack, 1876 - A remarkable northeasterly storm on the 4th of December, 1786 caused most of the salt hay along the North Shore to be set afloat and lost in the tide. Samuel Pulsifer and Samuel Elwell, both of Rowley were digging clams on the flats in Plum Island Sound and got caught in the storm. The Rev. Ebenezer Bradford … Continue reading Adrift on a Haystack, 1876
Wreck of the Falconer, December 17, 1847 - On December 17, 1847 the brig Falconer, loaded with bituminous coal, wrecked at Crane Beach (known then as Patch’s Beach), bound for Boston from St. John, New Brunswick. 36 crew members were rescued but 17 were lost at sea. Captain Joseph Rowlinson and his son, master Charles Robinson were buried in Belfast, Maine. Three bodies … Continue reading Wreck of the Falconer, December 17, 1847
The Blizzard of ’78, February 5, 1978 - Featured image: Market Street photo from “Ipswich Today” February 10, 1978. On the far right you can see the Strand Theater, which was demolished in 1985. The “Blizzard of ’78“ raged from Sunday evening February 5 through Tuesday evening February 7. Over a billion dollars of damage occurred, including the loss of 11,000 homes and the lives … Continue reading The Blizzard of ’78, February 5, 1978
Wreck of the Deposit, December 23, 1839 - by Susan Howard Boice: I would like to tell you a story that I read in the Lighthouses of New England which happened in the 1800’s. The lighthouse keeper in Ipswich at the time was T.S. Greenwood, who owned land at Manning”s Neck (Newmarch Street) and also inherited land on Jeffreys Neck Road. Three … Continue reading Wreck of the Deposit, December 23, 1839
Wreck of the Ada K. Damon - Ada K. Damon shipwreck photo from “Ipswich” by Bill Varrell Christmas, 1909 witnessed the heaviest storm in many years and is known by sailors on the Atlantic Coast as one of the most fateful days in the history of these waters. The “Great Christmas Snowstorm” struck the North Atlantic States hard as far south as Maryland. … Continue reading Wreck of the Ada K. Damon