Fun Facts About This Scenic Cape Ann Town
There are a few key facts about Rockport, Massachusetts everyone knows: It’s an adorable coastal town, an artist haven, home to Motif #1, and the perfect spot to procure the tastiest, freshest lobster.
Now maybe you grew up in New England and spent summers on Cape Cod instead of Cape Ann. Don’t worry, we have some reference materials on Cape Ann vs Cape Cod to help clear things up (they say that to err is human…).
Or maybe you are a north shore kid who remembers Hilltop Steakhouse and has spent Saturday mornings in line at Bagel World.
Regardless of your background, in this article, we will provide you with 5 Things You (quite likely) Didn’t Know About Rockport, Massachusetts. Let’s dive in.
So Pebble Beach and Cape Hedge Beach are two of our favorite spots in Rockport. They are in a quiet secluded residential area and they offer a tranquil spot to relax and unwind. Both beaches have a number of smooth stones surrounding the beachfront. Do you know where those stones came from?
The stones on Cape Hedge and Pebble Beach were actually used as ballast for ships! Many ships that came into Rockport Harbor were built to haul large loads of granite and they had to weigh down the ships to stabilize them. On the return trip, they would dump the ballast and refill with blocks of granite.
Over hundreds of years, these stones were smoothed by the water and now provide a pretty impressive visual background when visiting these beaches in Rockport.
Today, larger cargo ships utilize sea water to help balance the ships and have some pretty impressive computerized plumbing systems that make life a lot easier than it was hundreds of years ago. It must have been a pretty labor-intensive endeavor!
Cape Ann is home to many beautiful lighthouses including Eastern Point, Annisquam, Ten Pound Island and Straitsmouth. But the most interesting lighthouses have to be the twin lighthouses on Thacher Island. They are actually the only operating twin lighthouses in America!
The history of Thacher island is also pretty tragic and worth digging into if you have some time. You can learn more in our Thacher Island Blog here.
For this article, we wanted to let you know that you can actually camp on Thacher Island!
The campground on Thacher Island is open to the public from June through August. It is equipped with some basic, composting toilets as well as campground area, picnic tables, and a covered pavilion for rain protection. Set up camp and live the island life for a little while.
You find more information here: https://thacherisland.org/visit-us/#camping
Now this fact is a little more well-known than the previous two, but many of our guests here at Addison Choate and Sally Webster are surprised to learn about it.
The story goes back to 1856 when a local woman, Hannah Jumper, led a band of hatchet-wielding women through town to destroy all of the alcohol bottles and casks that they could find. They had enough of their seafaring husbands’ excessive carousing, and this was when the temperance movement took hold in Rockport.
It’s hard to believe, but it was not until 2019 that stores could sell alcohol direct to consumers again.
The United States relationship to alcohol has always been interesting. Most of the world has a drinking age of 16-18. The US is actually one of just 12 countries in the world with a 21-year-old drinking age. Some of the other countries include: Pakistan, Mongolia, Micronesia, and Sri Lanka.
That being said, we do think that this unique history has likely played a role in preserving Rockport’s character and charm as a quaint, historic, coastal village.
So how did Bearskin Neck get its name? Well, local legend has it that Ebenezer Babson witnessed a bear attack his nephew, Henry Witham. In an effort to save Henry, Ebenezer attacked the bear, luring him into the water and killing him with a fishing knife.
Pretty wild stuff. This is almost at Vladmir Putin levels of intensity.
Ebenezer then skinned the bear and spread the skin on the rocks to dry. The name then stuck.
The entire scene is prominently memorialized in a painting over the front door of the Pewter Shop. The painting reads “Babson, Babson killed the bear with his knife I do declare.”
Learn more about Bearskin Neck Here. https://addisonchoate.com/blog/bearskin-neck-rockport-ma/
Rockport is known as a magical holiday village and Christmas in Rockport is something that is absolutely worth witnessing firsthand.
With horse drawn carriage rides down Bearskin Neck, the tree lighting in dock square, carolers & musicians throughout town, Santa’s arrival via lobster boat, performances at the Shalin Liu, and the shops all decked out for the season, it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit.
But one of the events that has been a long-standing community tradition is the Live Nativity Pageant. The event is spearheaded by the Rockport Art Association and has been around for 77+ years!
Dating back to 1946, the holiday tradition involves a torchlit procession from Dock Square up to the Congregational Church. The best part is that anyone can participate! So, if you are thinking about trying out a new career as a shepherd or an innkeeper, just swing by the Rockport Art Associate to grab your garb! It’s just another special reason to love this beautiful coastal village.
So that wraps up our list of 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Rockport. Hopefully, we stumped you a couple of times and gave you some interesting new information. If you decide to take a trip to visit us in Rockport, our team here at Addison Choate is always happy to answer any questions about the town and help point you in the right direction.