The harbor, in 1908
Marblehead Harbor is a harbor located in Marblehead, Massachusetts, 17 miles northeast of Boston. It is considered the birthplace of the Continental Navy, forerunner of the United States Navy, and of United States Marine Corps Aviation.
Marblehead Harbor is located to the east of the town's center. To the south is an isthmus that connects the town to Marblehead Neck, which is located on the eastern side of the harbor. The harbor is home to many yachts and also a fishing community, which has increased over the years. There are 2,000 moorings and the harbor contains 14.2 miles of tidal coastline. For a number of years, the Burgess Company was located along the shores of the harbor. Fort Sewall is also located along the northwestern edge of the harbor.
Marblehead Harbor has a distinguished military history as well. It was the home port of the schooner Hannah, the first armed vessel of the Continental Navy, and her original owner and master and most of her crew were from Marblehead. A diary entry by a local sailmaker records her sailing on her first military expedition during the American Revolution, under the command of John Glover; the birth of what was to become the United States Navy. The ship was equipped with cannon and with provisions including the indigenous "Joe Frogger" molasses/sea water cookie. The nautical backgrounds of the crew were instrumental in helping the colonists during various sea campaigns during the course of the war.
On August 20th 1912, Alfred Austell Cunningham became the first Marine aviator, taking off from Marblehead Harbor in a Burgess Model H seaplane given to him by the Burgess Company. His flight began the era of United States Marine Corps Aviation.
In 1915, United States Naval Training Station for Aviation, Marblehead was opened, operating until 1917. The station was the first air station in the state, and trained units from all over the region.
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- Burke, Alan (2 August 2012). "Town marks 100 years of Marine Corps aviation". Gloucester Times. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
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- Westfield, Duane and Bill Purdin. "The Birthplace of the American Navy". Marblehead Magazine. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- "Massachusetts Naval Aviation Bases 1915-1920". The Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "Visiting & Town History". Marblehead Massachusetts Official Website. Retrieved 3 August 2011.