Swampscott, 1873 — "Swampscott was detached from Lynn, and incorporated May 21, 1852. The name is an Indian word, signifying "broken waters." The town lies in the south-easterly section of Essex County, 12 miles north-east of Boston by the Eastern Railroad, which here sends off a branch to Marblehead. The boundaries of Swampscott are Salem and Marblehead on the north, the ocean on the east and south, and Lynn on the west. There are in the town 29 farms (all well cultivated), 411 dwelling-houses, 544 voters, and 1,846 inhabitants. The valuation is $2,432,750, and the tax-rate only $0.95 per $100.
The people are mostly engaged in the cod and mackerel fishery; and there are no more temperate, brave, and intelligent fishermen to be found upon our seaboard. Massachusetts Bay may be said to be their home; and, from the twenty stanch fishing-vessels here employed, a large part of the State is now daily supplied with fresh cod and haddock, halibut and mackerel. The fishermen generally set out early every morning, cast their nets through the day, and return late at night. Large numbers of fish-wagons await the arrival of the fleet, and, having received their loads, distribute them through the country. Occasionally the Swampscott fishermen make a voyage to Bay Chaleur and Labrador for mackerel; and they have thus far had the good fortune to escape from serious loss of life or property at sea.
The scenic aspect of this town is remarkably varied, picturesque, and beautiful; and hence it has become a very fashionable watering place, and its headlands are crowned with elegant mansions owned by gentlemen from the neighboring cities. From the rise in real estate, caused by the influx of wealthy summer-visitors, many of the citizens of the place have risen to affluence. The ocean-view from the headlands of Swampscott, which rise boldly from the shore, is remarkably fine. It embraces Egg Rock (on which there is a lighthouse) and other handsome islands, the long peninsula of Nahant, the lights in Boston Harbor, the shore of Scituate, and nearly the whole expanse of Massachusetts Bay. There are three beautiful beaches of pure white sand, which furnish fine facilities for sea-bathing and for boating. Phillip's Beach extends to the distance of about one mile beneath the bluffs: Whale Beach and Blaney Beach, though less in extent, are still more frequented, and more charming. Dread Ledge, Fishing Point, and Phillip's Point, stand forth prominently from the general shore-line, and enable the observer to come directly abreast the ocean-wave in its full glory. A descriptive poet has thus referred to some of these prominent local features: —
Egg Rock, like a sentinel, vigil is keeping;
And, far to the left, Tinker's Island is sleeping;
Extending below you is old Phillip's Beach,
Whose sands, brightly gleaming, to Marblehead reach.
The fisherman gayly is casting his line;
The sea-bird is dipping its wing in the brine;
And many a sail, outward bound, you descry
In sunlight and shade moving gallantly by.
On this point a knight of Old England once landed;
On this long black rock 'The Tedesco ' was stranded.
For gulls' eggs, to yonder fair island 'prospecting'
Our forefathers went; and once, tor dissecting
A whale on the beach, so many men met,
The spot where he died bears the name of Whale yet.
Below Ocean Point, Saugus moored his canoe,
And in the white sand cabalistic lines drew;
The Indian maid danced on the smooth curving shore,
And mingled her song with the wild ocean roar.
Swampscott has seven public schools; a hotel, called The Oriental House; a good town-hall and a public library; a Post of the G. A. R.; a Methodist church, of which the Rev. S. Roy is pastor; and a Congregational church (established July 15, 1846), of which the Rev. H. W. Jones is pastor. The Calvinistic Baptists have recently erected a fine church-edifice, and have the Rev. Lucian Drury for their pastor. The Campbellite-Baptist church is without a pastor.
The first tannery in New England was established here in 1629 by Francis Ingalls. The present town-clerk is G. H. Holden."