Friday Flashback #46

The July 4th holiday — the biggest beach-going celebration of the year — is a good time to look back at Compo Beach of yore.

Here it was in the early 1900s — almost deserted, but ringed with wooden bathhouses:

The cannons were placed at the beach in 1910 1901. Shortly thereafter, a horse and cart passed by:

Here’s one of the rafts that were anchored offshore:

There’s a common element to these photos, taken half a century apart:


From long before the British landed offshore in 1777, right up until the late 1950s, Compo was not the sandy beach it is today. It was rocky, uneven — downright uncomfortable.

A major project created the Compo we know and love. It was not easy — but it was important.

Think about these photos the next time you complain about anything beach-related.

Like sand on the boardwalk.

6 responses to “Friday Flashback #46

  1. Mary Cookman Schmerker '58

    I remember thru rafts. Great to swim out to and dive off. We loved them. I also remember the rocks. We just accepted them as a part of a New England beach. We knew we weren’t in Florida and we just accepted the conditions.

  2. Peter Barlow

    When I was a kid the “rafts” were known as Floats.

  3. Judith Seitz Richmond

    Does anyone know where the cannons were moved to the beach from?
    I remember the beach being rocky.

  4. Bonnie Bradley

    Did anyone ever find out who blew up one of the cannons in the wee hours of one morning in the 50s? The blast woke my family in Owenoke right out of a sound sleep. My father immediately put me & my brother in the car and we drove in the dark to the beach. There were big pieces of the cannon lying around, but no one, no car to be found. Always wondered who did it; some old-time Westporter must know. 😀

  5. Wendy Crowther

    Per my historical research of Compo Beach, the Cannons were dedicated on July 4, 1901, not 1910. This was to commemorate the battle fought near this point between the British forces and the American patriots on April 28, 1777. The cannons were given to Westport by the US Government. An article published in the Hartford Courant on Feb 7, 1903 says, “Two large guns presented by the US government now mark the place of the conflict in the days of the young republic.” Westport’s Historic Resources Inventory also lists July 4, 1901 as the date that the Cannon Monument was dedicated. The date might have been confused for the year in which the Minuteman Statue was dedicated (which was 1910). I’ve come across similar mix-ups elsewhere in regard to these two monuments.