Fun Facts About Gloucester’s Breakwater
Because I am a research geek, I present to you some fun facts about Gloucester’s breakwater.
This 2,250 foot breakwater was built by the Army Corps of Engineers aided by the Rockport Granite Company between 1894 – 1905.
Its official name is the Dog Bar Breakwater.
It was built partly because after Eastern Point Lighthouse was lit in 1832, ships continued to run aground on Dog Bar Reef. Residents also wanted to keep rough water out of the harbor during storms.
The substructure is a rubble hill made from grout, broken granite and the refuse from quarries, averaging 100 feet wide at the base and gradually narrowing to about 30 feet.
The rubble was dumped overboard in a line and allowed to “settle” for several years until it was ready for the top structure, or “superstructure.”
The superstructure is composed of seven tiers of cut granite, placed on top of each other in pyramid-like fashion.
Each of the top capstones weights at least ten tons.
Further extension of the breakwater was considered, but officials at the time could not agree whether it was necessary, or would have adverse affects on the harbor.
Cost at the time was $300,000 to $500,000; now it would cost an estimated 14 million.
The breakwater was described in a 1905 Boston Globe article as a “delightful promenade for the people.”
Dog Bar Breakwater is now part of a 53-acre nature preserve owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Monarch butterflies and seabirds can be spotted there.
Nearby the breakwater, towards the Eastern Point lighthouse, you can find “Mother Ann’s Rock”—a rock formation similar to New Hampshire’s Old Man of the Mountain. You can find a great post about Mother Ann’s Rock from E.J. LeFavour on GMG, just put the words “Mother Ann” into the Search Box, and you will see it about three posts down.
Did you know? A short loop trail through a nearby “forest“ is located across from a cul-de-sac named Aileen Terrace. It’s public and you can walk it if you can find it!