Gloucester, Massachusetts

Dogtown & Babson Boulder Trail

A New England ghost town features a trail of boulders etched with intriguing life lessons

20

Dogtown was originally founded because of its location away from the harbor and therefore free from the risk of attack. Over time the population was mostly the wives and widows of seamen and the dogs that protected them hence the name Dogtown. By the early 19th century all that remained were older women believed by the locals to be witches and a few other stragglers. By 1839 they had all died leaving only the wild descendants of the dogs who had formerly protected the inhabitants.

Dogtown has a long history, started in 1693. Once a community settled by farmers, Dogtown was abandoned during the War of 1812. Legend is that fleeing families left their dogs behind, fueling the area's lasting nickname.

Long after the last resident of Dogtown died, Roger Babson created a trail of over 30 immense boulders etched with sayings to promote his inspirational ideals, now called the Babson Word Rocks. The rocks bear inscriptions including "Help mother," "Stay out of Debt," "Loyalty," and "Never try never win." Babson was a millionaire who supported the project, carried out by local masons, as a Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression.

Originally, the boulders stood in a groomed field, but now, the rocks are an eerie presence strewn in an overgrown forest with many footpaths scattered throughout, and make up a popular hiking trail.

  • Address
    Dogtown Rd. , Gloucester, Massachusetts, 01930, United States
  • Cost
    free
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Map/Directions
By car: Take Route 128 from Grant Circle (exit 11), then Route 127 North. One mile in go right on Reynard Rd. or Dr. Osman Babson Rd. then left on Cherry St. Look for Dogtown Rd. on the right, and park. The boulder trail is on the right after you pass through Dogtown Square along the path.
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