Fun facts about the town of Cuttyhunk…

  • Cuttyhunk Island is not a town to itself, but a village in the town of Gosnold, which was incorporated in 1864.
  • Gosnold consists of all of the Elizabeth Islands—Cuttyhunk being the outermost—which stretch westward from Woods Hole and separate Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay.
  • Cuttyhunk is 1-1/2 miles long by three-fourths of a mile wide, totaling about 580 acres.
  • The island is 12 miles to the south of New Bedford, and eight miles west of Gay Head, Martha’s Vineyard.
  • On a clear day, visitors standing on Lookout Hill—the island’s highest point at 154 feet above sea level—can view New Bedford, Gay Head, and (occasionally) The Cape Cod Railroad Bridge, which spans the Cape Cod Canal.
  • During World War II, Lookout Hill was home to an active military bunker where soldiers kept watch for German U-boats. Today, the site is open to the public and features a picnic area and beautiful views of the island and ocean.
  • According to the U.S. Census, from 2000 to 2010 the island’s population grew 13 percent—from 52 residents to 56; including Cuttyhunk, Gosnold has just 75 residents making it the smallest town in the state.
  • As of 2010, Cuttyhunk had no residents aged 10 to 30, aged 40 to 44, or over the age of 85.
  • Cuttyhunk is the first site of English settlement in New England, as explorer Bartholomew Gosnold—for whom the town is named—and the crew of the Concord settled on the island briefly in 1602 before returning to England.
  • The island’s original name was ‘Poocuohhunkkunnah’, a term used by the Wampanoags which means “Point of departure” or “Land’s End.”
  • In 1691, the Elizabeth Islands were assigned to Dukes County, which also includes Martha’s Vineyard, Chappaquiddick, and No Man’s Land. The county gets its name from the Duke of York, who received the land from his brother, Charles II, the King of England.
  • Noted Quaker businessman and abolitionist Paul Cuffee was born on Cuttyhunk in 1759. Among his accomplishments, Cuffee helped colonize Sierra Leone, established the first racially integrated school in Westport, Massachusetts, and built a lucrative shipping empire.
  • Cuttyhunk Light was built in 1823, but only a stone oil house— lacking a door and roof—remains today. The lighthouse was repaired several times over the years, including in 1891, but following a powerful 1944 hurricane that damaged it heavily, the structure was town down.
  • In addition to its role in aviation, the term ‘pilot’ also once described mariners who guided ships through harbors. In the golden era of whaling, Cuttyhunk was home to many pilots, as the major industry of New Bedford—just across Buzzards Bay— was whaling.
  • In 1858, Otis Slocum sold the island to William Swift, Thomas Nye, and Eben Perry for $50.
  • Built in 1873, the Cuttyhunk schoolhouse remains the last one-room schoolhouse in Massachusetts; in December of 2013, two students were enrolled.
  • In August of 1992, the 963-foot Queen Elizabeth 2 badly damaged a section of its hull when it ran aground on a shoal about 2-1/2 miles south of Cuttyhunk; no one was injured in the crash, and most of the ship’s 1,815 passengers were ferried to Newport, Rhode Island.
  • Divided by the narrow Canapitsit Channel, Cuttyhunk is literally a stone’s throw from Nashawena Island.
  • Cuttyhunk is famous for its fishing and the preponderance of large striped bass in its surrounding waters. In 1913, a world record 73-pounder was reeled in off shore; another 73-pounder was caught in 1967.
  • Established in 1864, the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club featured a membership including powerful politicians and businessmen who loved fishing, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Grover Cleveland.
  • When the club was founded, membership was limited—most members were millionaires—and no women were allowed.
  • President of the American Woolen Company of Andover, Massachusetts, William Madison Wood built the Avalon home in 1909 and the Winter House in 1917—the island’s two most prominent residences. In 1921, Wood purchased the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club.
  • In 1997, Oriel Wood Ponzecchi, purchased the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club and reopened it the following year as a cafe and bed and breakfast.
  • A seaplane service once brought visitors to and from Cuttyhunk; today, the island has two private airstrips.
  • In addition to water taxis, the Cuttyhunk Ferry Company provides regular service to and from New Bedford; generally, there is at least one ferry per day from May through September.
  • In addition to passengers, the ferry transports the island’s mail.
  • The Island Market—Cuttyhunk’s only store—is open during the summer from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., offering groceries, candy, deli meats and more.
  • In winter, the store is open for just 45 minutes (from 3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.) per day, six days a week.
  • Soprano’s—the lone pizza establishment on the island—is run out of a private home, and owner Mark Buckley serves customers seated at picnic tables in his driveway.
  • Island visitors can purchase oysters, stuffed quahogs, and clam chowder from Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms.
  • Residents Bruce and Carolyn Borges sell lobsters and seafood at the dock.
  • A longtime island tradition is the annual Fourth of July golf cart parade, which begins outside the Winter House.
  • On June 24, 2005, Cuttyhunk was the last stop on the Boston Red Sox’ World Series trophy tour.
  • As of December 2013, George Isabel was both the island’s police chief and harbormaster.
  • According to the website,, “Cuttyhunk Island is a place to do a whole lot of nothing.”

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