Rockport Massachusetts, 1890

Rockport forms the eastern extremity of Cape Ann and of Essex County, and is 35 miles from Boston by the Gloucester Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad. Gloucester bounds it on the west, and the ocean in all other directions, Its assessed area is 3,182 acres.

Halibut Point is the northern extremity, with Folly Cove on its west side, and Hoop-pole Cove on the east, separating it from Andrews Point, which is one of the summer resorts of the town. South of this, on the eastern shore, is Pigeon Cove, upon which is situated. the village of the same name, where great quantities of granite are wrought and shipped. It is a charming and much-visited place. Further south is Sandy Bay, upon whose southwest curve Rockport village is situated. Hence the shore runs eastward, forming a point called Cap Head, which is the most easterly point of the mainland. Southward is Flat Point, with Whale Cove on its north, and Loblolly Cove on its south side; the latter in turn resting on Emerson's Point, which forms the southeast extremity of the town. From this point the shore runs southwest to High Rocks Point in Gloucester, the body of water enclosed bearing the name of Long Cove, broken mid-length, however, by the slight projection called Cape Hedge. Milk Island lies near Emerson's Point on the southeast, while about one half-mile distant en the east, and connected by a "call ferry," is Thacher's Island, bearing the tall twin lights of Cape Ann. On the northern point of Straitsmouth Island, near Cap Head, is a single light. North of this is Avery's Rock, where was wrecked, on the 19th of August, 1635, a vessel belonging to Mr. Allerton, one of the Pilgrims; by which disaster Rev. Mr. Avery, his wife and their six children, and twenty other persons were lost. Mr. Thacher and his wife, also passengers on the barque, were cast upon Thacher's Island and saved; and from him this island of good omen has its name.

At each extremity of Long Cove are small ponds; while Cape Pond, a pretty sheet of fresh water about three miles in circumference, lies among woods and ledgy eminences in the southwest. The course of the railroad from Gloucester to Rockport village is at the north of this pond, through monotonous woods, broken only by the opening made by Beaver-dam Farm. On the north side of the railroad is a long line of rocky and sparsely wooded hills, long known as "Dog Common." Northwest and southwest of Rockport Village are Poole's Hill and Great Hill. Pigeon Hill is southwest of the village of the same name, and has on its opposite side extensive granite or sienite quarries. There are also quarries in the north and other parts of the town. The surface is remarkably broken and wild, with huge masses of sienite cropping out in every section. The rock is lighter in color than the Quincy granite. It is the material of which the Boston post-office, as well as many other of its buildings, is constructed.

By the State census of 1885, recently published, it appears that there were engaged in this business, as quarrymen, finishers, paving-stone cutters and blacksmiths, about 350 men. Other manufactures were vessels, leather, boots and shoes, carriages, clothing, oils, isinglass and other food preparations. The aggregate value of all these products was $551,199. There is some level, strong and productive land, which is included in the 41 farms of this town; whose aggregate yield in 1885 amounted to the sum of $48,634. Apples and cranberries are a considerable crop; and other farm products were such as are usual. The fisheries yielded the sum of $104,657; the catch consisting mainly of cod and mackerel. In this business were engaged 19 schooners, 160 dories and 8 seine-boats. The mercantile marine embraced 8 schooners and ten sloops, aggregating 1,218 tons. The capital stock of the national bank was $100,000; and the savings bank, at the close of last year, carried deposits to the amount of $37,843. The population was 3,888; of whom 1,009 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $2,055,224, with a tax-rate of $16 on $1,000. There were 759 taxed dwelling-houses.

Both villages are post-offices. There is a high school, and others of the grammar and primary grades, for which are provided 10 buildings, valued at nearly $18,000. The public library contains some 3,000 volumes. There are a Congregationalist and a Universalist church at each of the two villages; and in the town are also a Baptist, a Methodist, and a Roman Catholic church, The newspapers are the "Review" and the "Gleaner," both weeklies worthy of their gains.

Rockport was set off from Gloucester and incorporated February 27, 1840; being named from its most striking natural feature. Gen. B. F. Butler has a stone summer residence on a fine eminence here; and there are many other handsome houses in picturesque and charming localities.

pp. 567-568 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890