Tag Archives: West Gloucester

Author Deborah Cramer asks were there plentiful horseshoe crabs in Gloucester? Leads to Winslow Homer, John Bell, and Cher Ami

Deborah Cramer thanks Good Morning Gloucester for mentioning her book and asks for photographs and stories about horseshoe crabs, otherwise known as the nearly scene stealing co-stars from her inspiring book on sandpipers, The Narrow Edge.

“I’m in the midst of a project right now trying to uncover the almost forgotten history of the whereabouts of horseshoe crabs in Gloucester.  I’ve heard some fantastic stories, like one from a man who used to go down to Lobster Cove after school and find horseshoe crabs so plentiful he could fill a dory. Do you think there’s a value to putting up a few pictures on GMG and asking people to send in their recollections of beaches, coves where they used to see them in abundance?”

We do. Please send in photos or stories if you have them about horseshoe crabs in Gloucester or the North Shore for Deborah Cramer’s project. Write in comments below and/or email cryan225@gmail.com

Here’s one data point. Look closely at this 1869 Winslow Homer painting. Can you spot the horseshoe crabs? Can you identify the rocks and beach?

Winslow Homer Rocky Coast and Gulls (manchester)

Winslow Homer, Rocky Coast and Gulls, 1869, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, installed in room #234 with so many other Homers (Fog Warning, All’s Well, Driftwood, …)

zoomed into horseshoe crabs (detail )

(zoomed into horseshoe crabs)

cr 2015 mfa


While reading The Narrow Edge, and looking at Kim Smith’s Piping Plover photographs, I thought about Raid on a Sand Swallow Colony (How Many Eggs?) 1873 by Homer and how some things change while much remains the same.When my sons were little, they were thrilled with the first 1/3 or so of Swiss Family Robinson.  As taken as they were with the family’s ingenuity, adventure, and tree house–they recoiled as page after page described a gorgeous new bird, promptly shot. They wouldn’t go for disturbing eggs in a wild habitat. The title ascribed to this Homer, perhaps the eager query from the clambering youngest boy, feels timeless. Was the boys’ precarious gathering sport, study, or food? What was common practice with swallows’ eggs in the 1860s and 70s? Homer’s birds are diminutive and active, but imprecise. Homer sometimes combined place, figures, subject and themes. One thing is clear: the composition, line and shadow are primed and effective for an engraving.


Homer watercolor 1873

Harper’s Weekly published the image on June 13, 1875. Artists often drew directly on the edge grain of boxwood and a master engraver (Lagrade in this case) removed the wood from pencil and wash lines.

Winslow Homer


2016. Wingaersheek dunes and nests 140+ years later.




Besides Homer, Deborah’s book had me thinking about Chris Leahy, where I first heard about the history of Ma Audubon and our state’s bragging rights. It had me dig out photographs of a visit to Harvard where reproductions of the dodo and auk skeletons made us as sad as Swiss Family Robinson, and to wonder about Deborah Dickson’s documentary on sculptor Todd McGrain, which I haven’t seen yet.


“Gone and nearly forgotten in extinction, the Labrador Duck, the Great Auk, the Heath Hen, the Carolina Parakeet, and the Passenger Pigeon leave holes not just in the North American landscape but in our collective memories. Moved by their stories, sculptor Todd McGrain set out to create memorials to the lost birds—to bring their vanished forms back into the world.”

I must thank Deborah Cramer for another Gloucester prompt. Last year while visiting Mass Moca for business, I happened upon the ECLIPSE exhibit by Elizabeth Kolbert, the New Yorker writer, in collaboration with the duo, Sayler/Morris. It was a gorgeous, elegiac passenger pigeon multi-media tribute. Coincidentally it was Earth Day. I immediately wrote John Bell, because he had spoken with me about Gloucester’s Cher Ami, which I promised to write about.

Does anyone remember Cher Ami and homing pigeons of Gloucester? Let me know.

For more on Deborah Cramer, and to listen to her being interviewed by Meghna Chakrabarti, please continue:

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For Anyone That Doesn’t Think A Cell Tower In West Gloucester Is A Good Idea- Are You This Person?


From Gizmodo-

What’s The Strangest Thing You’ve Done to Get Cell Reception?

I’ll confess to standing outside on the furthest corner of a Lanai on my tippytoes holding my iPad over my head to try to upload a post to the blog.

Diabolical New Coyote Defense Technique For Deer

Adapt or Die Baby.  Flat Out One Of The Most Brilliant Defense Mechanisms On Display I’ve Ever Seen.

I don’t care how hungry that coyote is that’s creeping up on the deer.  Deer lets one rip like this and the pack of coyotes are like “We out man.  I don’t want any part of that stank ass!”  Diabolical!!!

I’m guessing that was a three day old chili fart.  Had to be right?  I just hope the deer had some toilet paper laying around so it could do a wipe check.  Don’t want any poop remnants that might have snuck out making your deer butt all stanky.  Gotta at least give it one or two test wipes to make sure it’s all clear back there.

That deer in West Gloucester that got surrounded by the coyotes last year could have learned a thing or two from farting deer.  Would have saved itself a whole lot of time and aggravation during the standoff.  Shoulda just let one rip and that pack of coyote would have high tailed it back to Canada STAT!

BTW this post is for new subscriber Bill.


Do you know where Winniahadin is? It's in West Gloucester, near the Castle Manor Inn. The little bridge is still there. We may see some snow on Sunday similar to this. I researched Winniahadin several years ago on the internet, and it's referenced in historical documents.

Do you know where Winniahadin is? It’s in West Gloucester, near the Castle Manor Inn. The little bridge is still there. We may see some snow on Sunday similar to this. I researched Winniahadin several years ago on the internet, and it’s referenced in historical documents.

C. B. Fisk tour

Last week, Rick Isaacs was kind enough to give me a behind-the-scenes tour of the C. B. Fisk workshop where he works.  They are internationally renowned pipe organ builders, and their facility in West Gloucester shows why.  I was really impressed by the way they make much of the organ practically from scratch – they combine a wide variety of skills and disciplines to go from lumber and ingots all the way to a complete organ.  Their workspace is filled with neat tools and personal touches.  Here are a few of the photos I took. The complete set is available here.

Greg Bover (well known on this blog) working on the design of an organ:

When contracts are signed, designs turn into models (many of which are on the top shelf in this office):

The models are amazing in their own right:

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Series- Can You Date The Publication of This Old Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce Visitor Map- The Cape Ann Trail? Entire Map Part V

If you haven’t got it yet I can say without a doubt there is a clue on this page.

FOB Frank Ciolino brought down this old Visitor’s Guide map and I’ll be posting a different neighborhood photo each day this week.  Look for clues to tell you when you think it was first published.


Nick Holland Asks- What Were These Used For?


I’ve found dozens of eye bolts set in outcrops or large boulders across Gloucester. This one (see attached) is from Dogtown. There are many throughout the woods of West Gloucester. Typically I find them at the top of the outcrop or rock, often with a piece of wire still attached. They are much smaller than the beefy hardware associated with quarrying.

What were these used for?



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