Tag Archives: Flake Yard

Where’s Homie?

Hi Joey,

Recently I’ve been spending time researching the history Gloucester, and have come across many photos of the fish drying yards that once covered the Gloucester Waterfront before the days of the modern refrigeration like this one circa 1906.  There was always something about these photos that I found disturbing, and never figured out why until recently. Looking at the photos, it occurred to me that there is one ubiquitous element of Gloucester Harbor that is hauntingly absent… The gulls.  Where are they?  What is keeping them from the feast waiting right there on the wharf? If anybody knows the answer, please share.

~Bill O’Connor
North Shore Kid


Exhibit at Cape Ann Museum

Here’s just one of the number of incredible exhibits to see at the Cape Ann Museum.  This is what the flake yards looked like.  The cod would be split open , de-boned and laid out in triangle shapes flat on drying racks.

When I was about 12 years old at our dock we were splitting and salting cod for a Norwegian company.  Frank and my job was to pull off any globules of blood or liver after the cod got split and de-boned.  We had a big stainless steel tank and the triangular shaped cod would come down the conveyor to us and plop into the stainless tank.  Usually up around the nape of the cod rack there would be a liver still attached that we would need to rip off and give the rack a good washing to get nice and white before salting.

After that we would lay the whale cod split flat onto pallets, pour the salt over them and stack them up.  I can remember the whole cooler being stacked up with pallet upon pallet of salted cod waiting to dry and then for the trailer truck to pick them up.

Exhibit at Cape Ann Museum, originally uploaded by captjoe06.

click for full size picture