Hello! A fall chill in the air brings thoughts of warm apple cider donuts and aromas of hot cocoa to mind today. Leaves are beginning to turn color, and in a few weeks time, nature will be full of her glory. However, there are times when the natural world can be full of wrath as well, and the current very busy hurricane season bears witness to that.
Today we turn to a few photos that helped to date this Belcher photo album. On November 26 + 27, 1898, New England was hit by a storm of epic proportions, formed by the merging of two weather systems. It is known as the "Portland Gale" and as far as I know, is the only New England storm named for its victims. The storm battered southern New England on the weekend after Thanksgiving, when many travelers would be returning to their homes after visiting relatives. The timing could not have been worse. The 280 foot long side wheeled steamer Portland left Boston on the afternoon of the 26th to bring passengers to Maine, a trip she had made many times over the years. However, by mid-morning on the 27th, it was apparent that the ship and her nearly 200 passengers did not survive. Wreckage began washing up near Race Point in Provincetown and other areas around the tip of Cape Cod. The loss of life from that one wreck stunned the area, and the storm became known for its most famous victim. A total of 400 lives and 150 vessels were lost during the storm.
On the South Shore, tidal surges actually changed the course of the North River. People rowed dories down Atlantic Avenue in Boston. And in the coastal towns, wind, flooding, and erosion from high surf took their toll.
The photos here are of cottages that were damaged or destroyed at Brant Rock, Massachustts, a result of the Portland Gale. For many years, Brant Rock was a summer vacation spot for many people, and a number of Eastoners owned or rented cottages during the summer. Local organizations, such as the Outlook Club in Easton, had summer gatherings and outings at cottages owned by members. The Belcher, Drake, and Heath families were among those Eastoners who owned property at Brant Rock, and presumably, the cottages pictured here are those that were once owned by these families.
Let us hope that the current hurricane season, which has already caused devastation for our southern neighbors, does not repeat history.
Until next week, stay well!
Curator: Frank Meninno