Nahant History, 1873 — "Nahant, a noted watering-place, is a long and narrow peninsula, projecting from the city of Lynn southward into Massachusetts Bay, and forming the eastern side of Lynn Harbor. It was taken from Lynn and incorporated as a town March 29, 1853; and contains a post-office, three farms, 148 dwelling-houses, 144 voters, and 475 inhabitants. The valuation is $6,611,202; and the rate of taxation, only $0.35 per $100. It has two public schools and two churches. Many elegant residences have been erected here by citizens of Boston and other places, who spend the summer at this delightful place. They are surrounded by ornamental trees and shrubbery, and command fine prospects of the ocean. The streets, fences, and gardens are kept in excellent order; and the whole place abounds in scenes of unusual attractiveness and beauty. In 1865 the town had two vessels engaged in the fisheries; and the value of cod and mackerel taken was $4,200; and of lobsters, $9,000.
Nahant, from the Indian word Nahanteau, signifying 'twins,' is in itself a natural curiosity. The principal rock is sienite. This lifts itself into a bold headland, or promontory, which rises at the southern point about 160 feet above the sea. The action of the water has cut this rock into many fantastic forms, several of which resemble, in their gigantic features, works of art. Castle Rock, with a little exercise of the imagination, is a feudal castle, with its buttresses and battlements in ruins. Pulpit Rock, at the south-eastern point of the outer promontory, stands as a huge black desk, the upper layers of stone resembling a vast pile of books. Irene's Grotto is a beautiful arcade which leads to a chamber among the jagged rocks. Another grotesque and romantic spot is called the “Spouting Horn.” Through this, in storms, the sea breaks with tremendous violence. The Swallows' Cave is a long, deep channel opening from the land into the sea. At low water the visitor may pass entirely through it, and climb up the cliffs on either side. It is 72 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 8 feet high. Pea Island, near it, is a vast rock, covered with a little soil, on which the beach-pea (Lathyrus maritimus) grows.
Nahant is accessible from Lynn by a long, hard, and beautiful beach; and from Boston by steamers, which ply between the places, carrying many visitors, in the summer season.
Nahant was discovered by Capt. John Smith in 1614, who named it on his map 'the Fullerton Islands.' The first dwelling-house was erected in 1673; and the second settler was James Mills, after whose beautiful daughter Dorothy Cove was named. In 1817 the Hon. Thomas H. Perkins erected a beautiful cottage here; and a little subsequent to this the Hon. Frederick Tudor, who opened the ice-trade in this country, came here to reside. He afterwards fitted up a romantic spot, and gave it the name of 'Maolis' (”Siloam“ transposed), which attracts many visitors. Neptune's Temple, in these gardens, is a beautiful retreat, shaded by balm-of-Gilead trees, and affording a fine view of Lynn, Swampscott, and Marblehead, together with the sea-beaten Egg Rock, its lighthouse, and the open sea. It is supported by eight pillars of unhewn stone. Underneath is the Witches' Cave, which, it is said, served as a shelter for several persons during the persecutions for witchcraft in Salem in 1692.
The numerous watering-places on our charmingly diversified seaboard have somewhat diverted the attention of the public from Nahant; yet there is no spot on the coast presenting natural scenes more beautiful, or breezes more refreshing."
A sea serpent has reportedly appeared off the waters Nahant many times in the past 200 years.