The Abandon Village of Dogtown
Rockport and Gloucester are located on Cape Ann in northeastern Massachusetts. Today much of the activity (commercial and tourism) is focused along the waterfront and harbors. In the center of Cape Ann is a high rocky plateau. Today this area is forest conservation land with an extensive trail system. In the past, this area was focus of the much activity. Numerous quarries extracted granite blocks from deep pits during the 19th century. Prior to the quarry industry, the plateau was settled and farmed by dozens of families in the 18th
This area has a rich diversity of historic and archaeological sites to explore. It is great place to take the family. Author, Mary Gage has written a guide with trial maps as an aid to exploring the area.
The Guide sells for $9.00 and is available from
Along the two original roads through Dogtown are numerous small house cellars. These small stone lined foundations were only under a portion of the house, the house being larger. Most of the cellars have been partially excavated by treasure hunters and numerous artifacts (ceramics, nails, and glass) can be found scattered around them. Feel free to pickup and examine the artifacts but please leave them for others enjoy. The location of the cellars are shown on the trail maps in The Stones of Dogtown & Beyond.
In the 1930’s, local businessman Roger Babson hired out of work stone carvers to carve an identification number in boulders near many of the cellars. These numbers corresponded to a guide to Dogtown he had written. Some of the numbers have disappeared but many have survived. Several were recently rediscovered. Trying to find as many of these house numbers as you can makes for a fun outing with kids. For those who want a bigger challenge, look for the difference in the style of the numbers. These differences are indicators of different carvers
Roger Babson also had a series of inspirational and moral sayings carving into boulders throughout the area. It is a popular family day trip to find all the sayings. The sayings like the house numbers were carved in raised relief lettering. Unlike the house numbers, the saying were all carving using a standardized block style lettering. However, it is still possible to distinguish different carvers by looking other details of these carvings like how the background behind the lettering was handled. These differences are described and illustrated in detail in Stones of Dogtown &
The Whales Jaw is a natural rock formation that looked like the mouth of a whale with its jaw open. The “lower jaw” broke in half in 1989 due to a campfire build under it. It has been a popular tourist and picnic location since the early 1900’s. Some of these early visitors defaced the stone with graffitti. What was once 1920’s vandalism has become part of the fascinating history of the area. How many different initials and dates can you find? Can you find the star carving shown in this photograph? A complete listing can be found Stones of Dogtown & Beyond.
Please do NOT make any more carvings or paint on the stone.
A dike (stone & mortar dam) was built in the 1930’s to keep the iron ladened waters of Briar Swamp from entering the watershed that feeds the Babson Reservoir. The top of the dike was capped with a layer of mortar. Before the mortar completely dried, someone drew this cartoon like caricature. Who did this caricature represent? Author, Mary Gage gives her theory of who it portrays in Stones of Dogtown & Beyond.
This photograph shows a boulder raised off the ground on three smaller support stones. The support stones are of different heights and were carefully selected and placed so the boulder was made level even though it is situated on sloping bedrock. This structure was made by Native Americans for religious and ceremonial purposes. American researchers call this type of structure a “pedestal boulder.” It is one of several Native American ceremonial stones structures sites in Dogtown and just beyond Dogtown on Poole Hill. The location of the pedestal boulder and three other Native American stone structure sites is given in Stones of Dogtown & Beyond.
Stone Cairn (Poole Hill, Rockport)
On the old Haskins Estate (now a town park) on Poole Hill in Rockport is this unusual double stone mound. It is known locally as “Turtle Mound.” The mound consists of an outer shell of field stones added in the late 1800’s which covers an earlier Native American stone cairn. While visiting Turtle Mound, check out the estate’s two landscaping pools. For more details please see Stones of Dogtown & Beyond.
The northern end of Cape Ann which is a part of Rockport has the remains of numerous granite quarries. Most of these are on private property with the exception of the Babson quarry at Halibut Point State Park. In Gloucester near the Babson Reservoir and railroad tracks there is a quarry on conservation land which is open to the public. This quarry doesn’t have any steep dropoffs and is safe to explore with children. The quarry has good examples of long drill holes used for blasting as well as shorter holes spaced every six inches apart used to split the granite with the plug & feather method. An example of a set of plug & feathers can be found in one of the stones. Directions to the quarry can be found in Stones of Dogtown & Beyond.