Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Stormy Day In Scituate . . .

It is a cold, stormy day here in Massachusetts.  Rather than stay inside and be warm, I decided to take the boys on an adventure to see some of the high surf being generated by today's winter storm.

Looking east toward the mouth of Scituate Harbor

Today visited Scituate, Massachusetts - a town about 25 miles from Middleborough.  Located about halfway between Boston and Plymouth, Scituate is a quaint town with a prosperous downtown area, beautiful homes and picturesque views of the sea.  An interesting aspect of of the town is that it is not contiguous:  the area of town called Humarock can only be reached by travelling through the next town, Marshfield.  It was connected prior to 1898, but in that year a storm caused a shift in the topography and it became separated from the rest of town.  Another storm that caused devastation to Scituate - the Blizzard of 1978.  The storm surge destroyed countless home, with many of them being swept out to sea by the high waves.

The devastation caused by the Blizzard of 1978 (Photo courtesy of

Peggotty Beach area during the Blizzard of 1978 (Photo courtesy of NOAA Photo Library)

The coast of Scituate is guarded by two lighthouses, Old Scituate Lighthouse (1811) and Minot Light (1860).  Minot is situated one mile of the coast of Scituate and Cohasset, in an area where shipwrecks had claimed many of the ocean.  Today Minot Light is automated, and can be seen from 15 miles away.  Because of its location, it is a favorite for photographers during storms and high seas.

Our destination today was Old Scituate Light, to observe waves and learn about the light's history.  Located on a point near the entrance to Scituate Harbor, it is an ideal location on a stormy day to watch high surf.  The light became operational in September, 1811, and was built to aid in coastal navigation and to assist fishing vessels entering Scituate Harbor.

Old Scituate Light

The rain made this photo less than ideal!

Old Scituate Lighthouse also played a part in history.  During the War of 1812, daughters of one of the keepers, Rebecca and Abigail Bates, warded off an attack by a British military ship by loudly playing the fife and drum - the British thought the music was coming from an approaching group of militiamen, and retreated.  Their story is recounted in a book, An American Army of Two by Janet Greeson.

Old Scituate Light was taken out of service in 1850 upon completion of the new, larger Minot Light.  It was briefly returned to service in 1852 after the original Minot Light was destroyed in a storm only shortly after it was completed.  It was extinguished forever in 1860 when the current Minot Light was built and and placed into service.  It is currently a private residence owned by the Scituate Historical Society, and was added to The National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Another view of Old Scituate Light

The entrance to Scituate Harbor

The harbor entrance - note the difference in wave heights just outside the breakwater

If you are interested in learning more about Scituate and its history, visit the Scituate Historical Society's website, and take a trip to visit the Old Scituate Lighthouse.  Although the high surf was exciting, I think I will plan my next visit on a warm, dry day!

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