Voices of the Great Marsh

In March of 2001, the Eight Towns and the Great Marsh Committee in cooperation with organizations such as Mass Audubon and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as local citizens and students, produced a short videotape about the Great Marsh. The Committee promotes the value of this resource and place it in the context … Continue reading Voices of the Great Marsh

Jake Burridge, the sailor

Featured image: 2014 photo of Jake Burridge, courtesy Ipswich Chronicle. Original color photo by Kirk Williamson. In October, 2016 I was privileged to speak with Jake Burridge, a legendary 99-year-old Ipswich native. His wife Marsha graciously shared photos for this story. Jake grew up on Linebrook Rd., where he received his earliest education at the one-room Linebrook School. … Continue reading Jake Burridge, the sailor

Ipswich Mills Dam video

This video was taken last summer during the Ipswich Mill Dam drawdown, which coincidentally occurred duirng the worst part of the summer drought. The video describes the investigation that was conducted at that time of the dam's structure, and a study of the feasibility of removing the dam. Field work is complete, and a public … Continue reading Ipswich Mills Dam video

The 2016 Ipswich drought

Based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Palmer Drought Severity Index, the three-month period between May 1 and July 31 was the driest for those three months in Massachusetts since 1966 and the ninth driest on record. Due to the shortage of rainfall and continued high water demand, the Ipswich Water Department issued a Drought … Continue reading The 2016 Ipswich drought

Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting, Hamilton MA

The Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting on Asbury St. in Hamilton is listed in the National Register of Historic Districts, and has a collection of historic buildings that were built between 1870 and 1960. The land is owned by the Association, while the houses owned individually by the residents. 12,000 people, most from Boston, attended the first camp … Continue reading Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting, Hamilton MA

The old tool guys Jake Burridge and Jim Giannakakis visit the Heard House

Paul Valcour heads down to the Ipswich Heard House and gets a lesson on old farm tools from Jake Burridge & Jim Giannakakis. Presented by Ipswich ICAM.

Roads to Paradise

Paradise Road follows a shallow peninsula bordered by Muddy Brook and the Egypt River. In 1807, the ancient path was laid out by the Town as a road from Pingrey’s Plain near the Clam Box, which served as the hanging grounds, to the Muddy River Bridge and the Egypt River. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote: “The early farm of Mr. Charles Day … Continue reading Roads to Paradise

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the fate of the American Revolution

I listened today to an interview with author Nathaniel Philbrick on NPR, and was impressed with his fresh take on the social dynamics of the Revolutionary War, portrayed in his book, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. His account of the Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold … Continue reading Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the fate of the American Revolution

The Proximity Fuze: How Ipswich women helped win WW II

The former Ipswich Mills, now owned by EBSCO, was the site of one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Second World War. The VT proximity fuze (variable time fuse) resembled tubes found in radios, and made it possible to detonate antiaircraft shells in the proximity of their target, rather than on impact. Fearing that the secret of the invention might fall into … Continue reading The Proximity Fuze: How Ipswich women helped win WW II

Boston streetcar 1906

The streets of Boston, 1906

Boston's first motorized trolley opened on Jan. 5, 1889. Within seven years, the city had a network of electric streetcars. Enjoy this 1906 trolley ride on Boston's busy Boylston Street. Read more at the New England Historical Society.

Taking to the air in Ipswich, 1910-11

In 1909, W. Starling Burgess joined with Augustus Moore Herring to form the Herring-Burgess Company, manufacturing aircraft under a license with the Wright Brothers, thus becoming the first licensed aircraft manufacturer in the United States. Burgess took the initial flight of his first plane in 1908 at Chebacco Lake in Hamilton, MA. Burgess had been offered $5,000 by Charles … Continue reading Taking to the air in Ipswich, 1910-11

Hammers on Stone, the story of Cape Ann granite

Kitty Robertson's book The Orchard includes a sorrowful tale by old Mr. Patch about Mr. Brown and his team of horses who drowned in Ipswich Bay as he dragged a sled loaded with Rockport granite across the frozen surface. Whether itr happened, we may never know, but in searching for more information, I found the fascinating and often tragic story … Continue reading Hammers on Stone, the story of Cape Ann granite

History quiz

Who won the Civil War? Who is our Vice President? Who did we gain our independence from? What show is Snookie on? Who is Brad Pitt married to? (Guess which questions were answered with, "I have no clue.") It's not just the kids...

Joseph Nye Welch shuts down Joseph McCarthy: “Have you no sense of decency?”

Joseph Nye Welch of Waltham, MA served as the chief counsel for the United States Army when it came under attack by McCarthy's Senate Subcommittee on Investigations for alleged infiltration by Communists. He was a child of English immigrants, a graduate of Harvard Law School and a senior partner at Boston law firm Hale and Dorr. On June 9, … Continue reading Joseph Nye Welch shuts down Joseph McCarthy: “Have you no sense of decency?”

The Grand Wenham Canal and the Topsfield Linear Common

The Topsfield Rail Trail is a "Linear Common" following the former Danvers to Newburyport rail line, which was officially abandoned in 1981. A plaque at the trailhead in downtown Topsfield details the former railroad's history.The trail connects to the Danvers Rail Trail as part of the greater Border to Boston Trail.   Topsfield voters approved the rail … Continue reading The Grand Wenham Canal and the Topsfield Linear Common

Swampscott train wreck

Ipswich woman survived two train crashes in one morning, 1956!

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with Charlotte Lindgren, an Ipswich native, and who also loves Ipswich history. Her great grandparents Marianna and Maynard Whittier owned a "commodious house" at the junction of Essex Road and County Road (also known as "Parting Paths"). The old house and farm were long ago replaced by the … Continue reading Ipswich woman survived two train crashes in one morning, 1956!

Choate Island and Rufus Choate

Featured image: Painting of the Choate homestead by E. Choate Kane, courtesy of Joyce Patton Choate Island was originally known as Hog Island. In the Records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it is recorded that keeping hogs on islands or in fenced enclosures during the planting season was the law from the 1630’s, and each … Continue reading Choate Island and Rufus Choate

Clamming on Cape Ann

Clamming on Cape Ann

Shep Means hosts the show On The Waterfront at Cape Ann TV. On Episode 1, he goes digging for soft shell clams.

Strandbeests at Crane Beach

Strandbeest Invasion

The Strandbeests came to Crane Beach this morning, but the bigger news was the largest invasion of people the town of Ipswich has experienced in recent memory. Even though it was cool and cloudy, Deb and I anticipated a traffic backup on Argilla Road, so we took our bicycles. Finally, the Strandbeests were able to move a short … Continue reading Strandbeest Invasion

Melanson’s fire, August 7, 2009

Herman Melanson's Boatyard on Water Street burned in a spectacular fire on August 7, 2009.The boathouse was constructed by Herman Melanson’s father in 1954. Herman and his mother continued to live there after it was sold to Arthur Harrington in 1985. Harrington’s heirs had a sales agreement with developers who planned to build condos. The entire building, … Continue reading Melanson’s fire, August 7, 2009