The Gloucester Guide

Lane's Cove was dramatically created by its breakwater. The dory hauled up on Flatstone Ledge was as common here as everywhere around Cape Ann a hundred years back.

Lanesville sprawls along the granite from here to the south shore of Plum Cove, but its heart is its harbor, Lane's Cove, which was Flatstone Cove until soon after John Lane settled there in 1704. Day fishing in Ipswich Bay remains Lanesville's oldest industry. Its richest, however, fished chunks of granite from the depths of the ledge. Quarries lasted for only seventy-five years, not because the supply gave out but because asphalt and concrete replaced paving blocks and building stone around World War I.

Lane's Cove

Washington Street is the old main road of Lanesville village, here a quiet avenue of timeworn and dignified clapboard houses. Cut granite is everywhere—foundations, walls, gateposts—though few homes are made of it from the ground up anywhere on Cape Ann. Too expensive.

Rejoining Langsford Street (laid out later, after the first quarries were opened), we take a sharp right and left down the grade by the sauna (Lanesville steamed with sauna in the days of the Finnish stonecutters' colony) and come out at Lane's Cove, the smallest harbor on the coast. It was created by a private company organized to build the breakwater in the early 1830s, when Quincy men were blasting out the first commercial quarries on Cape Ann. The city bought out the company's rights to the cove in the 1960s and made a public landing of it, with a ramp, float, and parking.

Lane's Cove was as much a harbor for the shore fishermen as for the stone sloops and coasting schooners. Father unto son stowed trawl tubs, bait boxes, nets, floats, jigging lines, and lobster gear in a shantytown of fish shacks here and rowed or sailed wherry or dory, generally singlehanded, as far out as six or eight miles into the Bay for a day of fishing. Nor was it unusual for a man to labor back at dusk with a ton of codfish setting him down almost to his gunwales.

The flatstone ledge that first identified the cove makes a wading pool of it today. The heavy rusted rings and chains, and the cylindrical granite bollards for springlining the vessels to the piers, are still here, and vestiges of the derricks. Small boats have hauled up since colonial times at the end of the marsh where the stream meets the sea and the purple loosestrife grows.

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The Gloucester Guide, Copyright © 1990 by Protean Press and Joseph E. Garland.
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