An online project under the direction of the CAPE ANN MUSEUM
Historical Materials: Maritime & Other Industries & Facilities
The construction of the Gloucester branch of the Eastern Railroad from Salem in 1848 transformed Cape Ann from a sleepy rural area to a bustling metropolis, with summer visitors from Boston and New York arriving daily. The development of the tourist industry was part of a more general growth of tourism up and down the east coast of the United States. Seacoast and mountain areas were served first by stage coaches and then by railroads bringing urban visitors during the summers. Cape Ann was also a day trip for summer residents of places like Beverly and Manchester.
The railroad journey from Boston was not a difficult one. An advertisement listed in the Boston Directory of 1848 reported that there were eleven trains a day for Portsmouth and Salem. It also noted the: "Advantages of a Residence on this Route. No Railroad affords access to so many, so varied, and so splendid sea-side locations, or passes through so many pleasant cities, towns, and vlllages. Its Depots are within a mile or two of the celebrated beaches of Chelsea, Nahant, Swampscot, and Marblehead. A Branch [railroad] skirts the shores of Massachusetts Bay, in the towns of Beverly, Manchester, and Gloucester, opening most magnificent views of the ocean, leading to most retired spots for sea-bathing, and to the most delightful walks and drives in the native forests, that can be found in New England. This shore is rapidly filling up with marine villas and cottages."
By the 1850s Gloucester had three full-size hotels, the Pavilion, the Union House, and the Gloucester House, as well as a number of summer residents, such as Charles Hovey.