Swampscott Massachusetts, 1890

Swampscott extends from the ocean like a wedge between Lynn on the south and Salem and Marblehead on the north, and forms the southeast extremity of Essex County. It is 12 miles from Boston by the Eastern Division of the Boston and Maine Railroad, which sends from its Swampscott station a branch along near the beaches to Marblehead; on which the stations in this town are Phillip's Beach and Beach Bluff. The latter and Swampscott are the post-offices.

The assessed area is 1,588 acres. About one fourth is forest, consisting chiefly of pine and rock-maple. Along the streets are also great numbers of thrifty elm, maple and chestnut trees. A smooth gravel road winds along near the shore though the town, and all the roads are good. Paradise Road, Monument Square, and the sightly park, 80 feet above the sea, each has its attractions. A reddish granite seems to be the most frequent rock, The soil ranges from loam to gravel. Winnepurket Hill is a prominent elevation, and Moose Hill bears pleasant homes and boasts a mineral spring. About the shore are Blaney and Whale beaches, with Fishing Point between; then projects Dread Ledge, with its beacon, the extreme point of the town; succeeded northward by Phillip's Point, and Phillips Pond, and Phillip's Beach -- extending for a mile under the bluffs to beach Bluff near the Marblehead line. All these are beautiful beaches of white sand. At Galloupe's Point are picturesque views and magnificent residences; and from all points the bay is beautiful. A descriptive poet has thus referred to some of these prominent local features:--

"Egg Rock, like a sentinel, vigil is keeping;
And, far to the left, Tinker's Island is sleeping;
Extending below you is old Phillip's Beach,
Whose sands, brightly gleaming, to Marblehead reach.
The fisherman gayly is casting his line;
The sea-bird is dipping its wing in the brine;
And many a sail, outward bound, you descry
In sunlight and shade moving gallantly by.

On this point a knight of Old England once landed;
On this long black rock 'The Tedesco' was stranded.
For gulls' eggs, to yonder fair island 'prospecting'
Our forefathers went; and once, for dissecting
A whale on the beach, so many men met,
The spot where he died bears the name of Whale yet.
Below Ocean Point, Saugus moored his canoe,
And in the white sand cabalistic lines drew;
The Indian maid danced on the smooth curving shore,
And mingled her song with the wild ocean roar."


The fisheries form a considerable part of the industry of the town; the late census reporting 165 fisherman, 21 schooners, 145 dories and 13 seine-boats engaged in this business. A large number of these make daily voyages to the fishing-grounds, and large numbers of fish-wagons await their return; and having received their loads, speedily distribute the fresh mackerel, cod, haddock and pollock through a wide range of country. The proceeds of the fisheries in 1885 amounted to $105,991. The principal manufacturing consisted of boots and shoes, by two factories employing 167 persons. The largest establishment manufactures only patent heels. The 12 farms in the town yielded in the same year products to the value of $25, 809. The dairy, fruits, squashes and other vegetables, and field, garden and flower seeds were the leading products. The population was 2,471, of whom 713 were legal voters; while the number of dwelling houses was 585. The valuation in 1888 was $3,966,792, with a tax-rate of $8.50 on $1,000. The old town-house has been enlarged and improved, and is now surmounted by a tower containing a clock and a bell. Another elegant building is the new "Odd Fellows Hall." The schools are provided for in five buildings, valued at some $25,000. There is a public library of about 6,000 volumes; and two weekly journals, the "Enterprise" and "Standard," further provide for the entertainment of residents. The churches are the Congregationalist, Methodist, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, and the Universalist.

This town was detached from Lynn, and incorporated, May 21, 1852. The name, though appearing an English compound, is said to be a slight corruption of an Indian word signifying "broken waters." The first tannery in this country was erected here in 1629 by Francis Ingalls. A soldiers' monument of granite, with bronze tablets, stands in Monument Square, commemorating the 14 soldiers lost by this town in the late war; and about it are arranged the cannon captured from the British in the War of 1812-1814 by Swampscott men in the ship "Grand Turk."

pp. 629-631 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer