History of the River

Westport, Massachusetts, a town on the coast of southeastern Massachusetts, has a deep sea of history. The town with the main industries of commercial fishing and agriculture have records that date back to 1602.

In 1602 Batholomew Gasnold settles Cuttyhunk, and visits the mainland of what will become Westport. By 1652, settlers buy Acoaxet from Wampanoag Indians. Finally, in 1671, Richard Sisson settles at the Head of Westport. They are the first family in Westport.

For a number of decades there after the settlers are plagued with good and bad Indian relations. From 1674-1675, King Philips war drives out many of the settlers. Richard Sisson's home is burned to the ground along with many others. Thereafter, in 1694, many land was bought from the Indians including the "meadow land" and Stephen Neck which is now Westport Harbor.

The first roads were built in 1700 in the town which included Hix's Bridge, lower Drift, Adamsville, and Horseneck

Mills were built in 1712 by Waite, Tripp, and Lawton since then have burnt down.

The harbor has been a main point for both travel and commerce. Its use has been prevalent since the founding of the town. The first documentation of a ship in the harbor was the sloop "Union" that was to take two companies of troops to Boston in 1775.

The point of the harbor is difficult to navigate especially in the evening and it protects the harbor from the strong forces of the sea. The Davis House at Acoaxet was actually shot by a British cannon because the captain of the British ship was so angry that he could not find a way into the harbor to burn Westport Point.

The town was becoming very rich in agriculture and industry at this time. For example there was a cotton mill built in a Westport factory in 1816. It had 3072 spindles and consumed over 300,000 pounds of cotton. Being so close to Fall River and that cities importance in textiles made Westport a close support town.

While the textile industry and such was growing at a rapid pace despite a large fire that consumed many mills, the fishing industry was growing by leaps and bounds. By 1857 the town had 18 whaling ships working out of the point.

In 1861, there was a case that made it to the Supreme Court about a man who was being sued for taking another man's pile of seaweed at Horseneck Beach.

In 1864, forty boats went out and caught between 7000 and 8000 pounds of Tautog.

While in 1910 the first efforts of a beach cleanup and environmental conservation were shown at Horseneck Beach ridding the beach of pigs, decaying feces, and manure heaps.

The years subsequent were tough for Westport sending many people off to foreign wars. The toughest thing for the town was the devastated by Hurricanes. The hurricane of 1938 was one of the most costly devastating storms in US history. When the storm hit, it hit during the autumnal equinox where the sun and moon were aligned creating a force of double the normal gravitational pull and the tide was nearing its highest when the worst part of the storm hit creating more destruction of property and innocent lives.

Not 5 years later in 1944 the town was hit by another hurricane. Hurricane Carol hits in 1954.

This shows that hurricanes have devastated the town many times and helped to form the estuary in a new way each time. Although each flood and destruction causes much pollution in the water. Being so close to the ocean and only protected by a meager barrier island/peninsula, water levels are a respected force that Westporters know not to underestimate.

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