Rocky Neck Marine Railway

As we were walking at the Rocky Neck Marine Railway took some photos and decided to do a little research on the railway.

In 1855, Dodd & Tarr Fisheries was started on the tip of Rocky Neck in Gloucester Harbor. As the fisheries business grew to encompass a wharf, a grocery store, warehouses and 15 schooners, the need arose for a way to repair and maintain the fishing vessels. In 1859, the company constructed the first of two marine railways on the northern-most tip of their property on Rocky Neck. From then until about 1970, the Railways used a steam engine to haul up the vessels. One note of interest is that the gears used in the steam engine were produced at the same factory that built the engine for the Civil War battleship, the Monitor.  In 1874, the Tarr bothers of Gloucester took over the firm of Dodd & Tarr and by 1879 the company was listed as “Rocky Neck Marine Railways Association”. The name “Dodd & Tarr & Co.” was reserved for the fishing business only. By 1892, the railway was maintaining 20 first class vessels. In 1907 Capt. Frederick Albert Cook reportedly brought his schooner to the Railways to be sheathed for ice and outfitted for an Arctic expedition. In the 1920s and 30s, schooners participating in the International Fishermen’s Races were hauled out at the Railways for painting and last minute repairs. In the late 1980s the Mayflower II came for repair. Recently the privately owned 128 foot Nantucket Lightship was hauled up in dry dock as she received fresh paint and maintenance.  Since 1859 the Rocky Neck Marine Railways, now known as the Gloucester Marine Railways Corp., has maintained and repaired thousands of fishing, commercial and pleasure boats from the wooden schooners of the last century to the present day steel and fiberglass vessels. A modern Travelift has recently augmented the original railways as GMRC keeps moving ahead, from one century to the next, distinguished as the oldest continuously operating marine railways in the country and a well-respected member of the marine industry in the Northeast.

March 23, 2013 Outward bound

About Donna Ardizzoni

Business Manager, Grandmother, love living in Gloucester, love to swim, walk and of course take pictures. Our company does computer networking, Office Management, Medical Billing, transcription, networking software updates and virus protection
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13 Responses to Rocky Neck Marine Railway

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for such a great history lesson!

  2. Bill Cox says:

    Thanks Donna…it is a cool place to be sure!

  3. A fine bit of missing history. Thanks. One bit of amplification: It was Dr. Frederick Cook who came in 1907 and, according to a piece in the Globe on Sept. 2, 1909, “quietly purchased the fishing schooner J.W. Lufkin and had her fitted up in regal style.” She was renamed the John R. Bradley, the name of Cook’s principal backer, and sailed “toward the end of June” on what actually turned out to be Cook’s race to beat Admiral Peary to the North Pole. Whether he, or Peary, or either one of them, was first at the pole has been a topic of controversy ever since. Gloucester’s role in that famous contest is long forgotten.
    - Chet Brigham

  4. Gloria Parsons says:

    The Gloucester Marine Railways is an amazing place, and an amazing piece of Gloucester’s history, and needs to be saved as such!

  5. billie says:

    This post is truly a pleasant one it helps
    new web users, who are wishing for blogging.

  6. charles says:

    I got my 24′ sailboat from the railways, a wreck and in disrepair tossed aside from another yard that closed. spent 1 1/2 years at the railways putting her back together. It is an amazing place to work, visit and be in. Now calling the railways her winter home, the staff is amazing, the view is wonderful and it always feels as if your “in” history when up there. thanks you for your posts Donna!

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