East Greenwich Cove, East Greenwich, RI 02818
Today is: Wednesday April 23, 2014

Scallop Town Park

Located at the southern most end of East Greenwich cove. Accessible by road, Crompton Avenue.

A Brief History of Scalloptown

Greenwich Bay in Colonial times was such a rich fishing ground for scallops and oysters that a portion of it came to be known as Scalloptown. Since the Town's inception, the livelihood for many East Greenwich residents has been wrested from the sea. In addition to oysters and scallops, blue fish, eels, mackerel, flounder, striped bass, tautog and of course clams and quahogs have been harvested from these waters. Though not as plentiful as they once were, back in 1877 East Greenwich was acknowledged to be "the scallop capital of Rhode Island." Scalloptown in its time was considered to be that area of the shore front running from just south of the "Old Jail" (Preservation Society's headquarters) to the foot of London Street. Fishing shacks were built on piles above the water and lined the Waterfront in a solid row.

In a 1989 article for "The East Greenwich Packet," local historian Thaire Adamson wrote, "The East Greenwich Waterfront is small in size but large in history." Indeed enterprises related to shipping and fishing are well documented here going back to the mid 1700's. With the War of 1812 and enforcement of the Embargo Act, foreign trade was restricted such that most vessels came to be employed in the fishing industry. And for generations to follow, East Greenwich citizens have made their living trolling these waters.

In her 1960 book "The History of East Greenwich, Rhode Island," Martha McPartland traces the evolution of Scalloptown from bustling port of entry to commercial fishing center to yachtsman's dream of safe harbor. She also acknowledges that for anyone familiar with East Greenwich today, the thought of large ships maneuvering and docking in East Greenwich is hard to imagine. But in the Pre-Revolution era and into the mid-19th century, the cove was particularly well-suited to sea-going commercial activity. As McPartland says, in those early years, there was at least ten feet of water where there is dry land today. A large vessel could tie up at Jail Wharf and be so big its bowsprint could reach the old Shore Mill. But over time, sand and gravel sifted down and the erosion filled in the edges of the Cove. The channel receded steadily until it became impossible to bring very large vessels close to shore. But some level of debt is still owned to the early mariners. "Without the bay, we would never have been," Martha McPartland wrote, "for which we should be everlastingly grateful to those who first settled here."

While Scalloptown proper lay just north of this site, it is this nautical heritage that we honor with Scalloptown Park.