Fairhaven, Mattapoisett

Just east of New Bedford, just over the Acushnet River, is the town of Fairhaven. Fairhaven has long been the home of the Delano family. The first Delano in the New World was Philip, who arrived in 1621, and joined the Plymouth Colony; Philip was of French or Flemish descent. In the mid-1800s, Warren Delano of Fairhaven was prominent in the China Trade. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was descended from the Delano family on his mother’s side; Franklin often visited Fairhaven. Milton Delano was a Fairhaven artist who died in 1989; Milton made two scrimshaw pieces for JFK, one of which was buried with JFK. The Delano family home is now a 3-room Bed & Breakfast.

The Delano Homestead
39 Walnut Street, Fairhaven, Massachusetts

Fairhaven was also the home of Nakahama Manjiro, first Japanese to live in the U.S. He came to the U.S. about 1841, after being rescued from a Pacific island by a Fairhaven whaling ship. He couldn’t return to Japan whenever he chose because Japan was then closed to foreigners, and Japanese were forbidden to leave, on pain of death. Finally Manjiro managed to return, taught Western-style navigation in Japan, and translated between Japanese and Americans. Fairhaven has maintained a Japan connection; in 1987, the emperor of Japan visited Fairhaven.

Fairhaven was the childhood home of Henry Huttleston Rogers, who made a fortune in the oil business, and gave several stately buildings to Fairhaven: a library, a town hall, a Masonic temple, a high school, an inn, and a Unitarian Church. Mark Twain was a friend of Rogers, and visited Fairhaven. Just north of Fairhaven High School, at 141 Main Street, is the historic Fairhaven Academy, a well-preserved building that houses a historical society. Slightly further north is the historic district of Poverty Point.

Fairhaven Town Hall (1892), designed by Charles Brigham


Fairhaven High School (1905)
also designed by Charles Brigham and financed by H. H. Rogers
the architecture is described as Elizabethan; it reminds me of the FrenchChateau Style


Fairhaven Academy (1798)

One of Fairhaven’s heroes is Joshua Slocum, who was the first person to sail around the world solo. He set out in 1895, in a 37-foot boat named Spray, and returned about three years later, after sailing some 46,000 miles. He wrote a book about the voyage, Sailing Alone Around the World, which Wikipedia calls “a classic of travel literature.” When he started his voyage, he was 51, and had vast sailing experience. He had a literary bent, and wrote a book about one of his other voyages, too. Slocum’s connection to Fairhaven is rather tenuous, since he wasn’t born there, didn’t grow up there, and didn’t live there in his later years. He did, however, receive his boat as a gift from a Fairhaven man in 1891, and he rebuilt his boat in Fairhaven.

The bike route below is one of my favorites in the Providence/CapeCod area. The eastern half (the Mattapoisett half) is more scenic than the Fairhaven half. If you like old houses, quiet neighborhoods, and water views, youíll like Mattapoisett. The route below is 8 miles (16 miles round-trip). Itís mostly on a paved bikepath, with short stretches on a dirt path, a sidewalk, and a quiet road. The eastern end of this route is Nedís Point Lighthouse, where thereís a small park with a view of Cape Cod.

Below is a slightly longer route that goes to Angelica Point.

From Angelica Point, you can see both CapeCod bridges with the naked eye, as well as Falmouth and the Elizabeth Islands.

I saw some interesting birds around Angelica Point — Godwit, Oystercatcher, and Osprey. Angelica Point is rocky, which is good if you’re interested in rocks, but it makes walking more difficult. I saw what looked like salmon-colored granite, and I saw some conglomerate that looked like man-made concrete; some of this conglomerate had globs of what looked like lava sticking to it. Was the lava ejected from a volcano, then fell onto this conglomerate? I also saw what looked like cut stones; these stones reminded me of the cut stones at Beavertail. Could these cut stones have fallen into the sea as a result of shipwreck, then been thrown onto the land by a hurricane, like the cut stones at Beavertail?

Below is a trail that starts at the bikepath, though it can be reached by car. The trail is about 4 miles round-trip. Though it goes along fields, it doesn’t go through fields, so the tick danger is only medium. The trail is a blend of wood, field, and shore, with a good view of Nasketucket Bay, West Island, and Cape Cod.

Below is a more inland route, following the Holly Trail:

Below is a 3-mile walk on West Island. It’s a good place to see ducks, especially in the winter. It’s also a good place if you’re interested in rocks, though the footing is rough in spots. A rocky shoreline like this is a perfect place to observe rocks since there’s no dirt, no leaves, and no lichen.