SeacoastNH Home

Seacoast New Hampshire
& South Coast Maine

facebook logo

facebook logo

SEE ALL SIGNED BOOKS by J. Dennis Robinson click here
Quaker Friends on Appledore 1872
Shoals_tourists / SeacoastNH.comISLES OF SHOALS

This article comes directly from a Philadelphia Quaker publication. We love the enthusiasm and description and the rare items not seen in print since 1872. This article also shows us the wide-ranging appeal of the Isles of Shoals as the burst of tourism in the Seacoast region was just picking up steam. (Full reprint below)

a religious, literary and miscellaneous journal, Volume 26
edited by Samuel Rhoads, Enoch Lewis
Philadelphia, Sixth Month, 21, 1873

Transcribed courtesy of

"Where shall we go? That is the question: some change must be tried; but where, in this sultry summer, is there any really health-giving place to be found?"

"Appledore!"—some one said.

"Appledore!—What is it like? Who would go to that barren rock in the Atlantic?"

"Yes—but Appledore is always cool." And so it was decided.

Leaving the damp, hot air that neutralized the beauty of our suburban homes, and following the well-known route eastward, we began to feel a reviving influence as the cooler wind blew into the car windows from New York harbor. The passage up the Sound in the capacious and well-appointed steamer was fine—splendid sunlight and sunset,—and then the moon rising clear and nearly full. All the party enjoyed it; and soothed and trustful feeling stole over us with the beauty of receding shores and the wide extending sea. At 5 A. M., we anchored at Fall river, but some delay in the train prevented our reaching Boston in time to make the connection for Portsmouth, and we remained there, perforce, till next day.

A two hours’ ride next morning brought us to Portsmouth, where a clamorous cry of "Isles of Shoals" drew us to the coaches waiting to convey travellers to the stout little steamer that plies daily between that city and Appledore. In an hour after leaving the wharf the whistle was blown, once for the steamer, and once for every ten passengers on board; the anchor was thrown out, and yawls were seen pulling towards the side. The mail was handed over to the carrier, who darted off in his skiff, and the passengers were seated in the boats and quietly lauded on the slip running down from the low rocks that form the cove of Appledore.

This is such a tiny island that, at first, one feels as though a sudden storm might wash it all away; only a half mile long and three-eights wide—but the granite girdle is taut, and we soon become assured. How restful! to be for once where there are no towns, no mills, no roads, no farming, no work of any kind visible—where everything wanted comes as if by magic, with nothing to offend the eye, or to break in discord on the ear. And then, the air! Yes, it is all that we could wish.

Appledore and Haley belong entirely to the Laightons. Thomas Laighton purchased the former, and made it his residence, for twenty-five years never leaving it for the mainland. At one time he had been interested in politics, but becoming disgusted retired to these islands with his family. His lonely grave is near the house, marked by a simple, yet substantial monument. His widow still presides over the establishment, but she seldom makes her appearance among the visitors, although her kind and cheerful face is always welcomed with pleasure. Oscar and Cedric Laighton are true "lords of the isles," and their legislative and executive abilities are fully equal to their position.

The hotel buildings cross a gorge that nearly divides the island from east to west; they can accommodate over five hundred persons, and are connected by piazzas more than seven hundred feet long. A green sward extends from the hotel to the landing, where a pavilion is placed to shelter those who incline to sit and watch the vessels and scenery beyond. Our apartments have windows opening to the north, west, and south. As I look westward at this moment, the steamer lies ready for departure, white sails are dotted about, and row-boats are plying to and fro.

The day after our arrival we took our first sail. The wind was fine, the sun bright, and the sea smooth enough for pleasure. We enjoyed skimming over the water, and passing from island to island till they were left behind, and there was nothing but the bounding waves between us and the shores of Europe. At that moment a storm blew up— thunder growled overhead, lightning flashed, the big drops fell on our yacht, and the wind caught its sail. In a wink the ladies crept into a cabin, large enough for as many dolls.

G drew on a fishing suit and helped to lower the sail, but this was not done till we were well scared by the boat tipping over. Happily the storm did not last long, and when the rain-water had been wiped out with a sponge we gladly resumed our seats in the open air. The wind died away and we had to tack slowly homeward; when ashore again we walked to our lodgings.

Yesterday the breakers were fine on the eastern cliffs. E and I walked over to see them. The green waves curling over so crisp and cool, then leaping up the rocks in clouds of spray, were enticing, but the impulse to rush into them was repelled by the savage aspect of the deep ocean. Last night there was a magnificent sight. Climbing high enough to see all round the island, and seating ourselves among the lichens, we watched the glory on sea and land, and the over-arching dome of splendor. On our left lay Star and Haley, Cedar and Londoner's, and White island, the light-house flashing its red and white torches; before us "eight miles of undulant gold" and the mountainous coast; while far to the north, were Boon island light and the shores of Maine.

In various expeditions we have explored this little region thoroughly. Although at first sight it is only a heap of crags, we soon find that the gray rocks are covered with lichens of all shades and colors ; their clefts are fringed with delicate grasses and flowers, and in all parts Appledore is full of nooks and tiny glens filled with bright green sod of richest white clover, beds of blue flags and clumps of wild roses. The gorges are gay with thistles and hypericum, and yarrow, golden-rod and asters, among which brilliant butterflies flit, or poise on the blossoms.

We rise in time to breakfast at half past seven ; the heavy sleepers being awakened by a reveille' from a cornet that goes round in some magical way' from stair to stair. A bucket of fresh sea-water stands at the chamber-door, in which to polish the red and white that grow clearer in this healthful atmosphere. The long, well-lighted dining-room is punctually filled with animated groups around the bountiful tables, discussing their plans for the day]s occupation as they sip their tea or coffee. The morning goes by in sailing, fishing, walking and gathering bouquets or shells and sea-weeds, reading, sketching, fancy-work or croquet. Dinner is at one, and then we write, nap, or spend the time in some other unaccountable way till an early tea at six. The evening is the chief time for social intercourse, for strolling, rowing, or sitting on the rocks to watch the sunsets and their phenomena. One night we had fire-works from a rock lying a little way out to sea. They were fine, and the effect so beautiful as to spoil us for looking at them anywhere else. The music-room opens on all sides into the breezy piazzas. These form the grand promenade, where one is entertained with noting the variety of characters drawn together in this unique resort. Here come a father and daughter in deep mourning, with thoughtful faces, and form and air that inspire respect; a group of fashionable young ladies follows; then a husband and wife that walk with the steady step of those conscious of the sunshine of prosperity, and strong in confiding love and parental authority. A troop of girls in white frocks, pink and blue sashes, and long curls, step joyously along, occasionally teased by some genial grey-beard. Young men away from college labors, or escaped from mercantile pursuits, have thrown off their fishing costume and come out for an evening’s social pleasure. Here, too, are artists, making sketches of maritime scenery for use in their city studios ; poets, drinking inspiration from nature; orators, renewing their exhausted powers ; naturalists, collecting treasures from cliff' and cove, and travellers, who sometimes open their sketch-books to share with others the views of Alp or fiord that they have brought away with them in outline and color.

NOTES FROM APPLEDORE. (Concluded on next page)


Appledore House view in 1903 brochure

Philadelphia, Sixth Month, 28, 1873
NOTES FROM APPLEDORE (continued from previus page)

In the ocean are all sorts of sea things, and as good fish as ever were caught. The other morning we were amused by the spouting and gambols of some huge fish two miles distant, their black bulks shining in the sun. To see what it is like, I went fishing one day, and my line had the good fortune to catch the first, fish taken by the party, a silvery haddock; also the largest, a beautifully speckled cod; and lastly, a "rock-cod," the very dandy of the ocean, dressed in rich bronze and gold.. A holothure floated up to our feet with the tide on Cedar island. C would have thought it beautiful, and so it was—almost—in spite of its soft translucency. It was ten inches long, and one and a half in diameter of a delicate rose color, shading into amber.

This morning we all started off for the. Greek Cross, with tin cup and bucket to catch and carry curiosities. Some of our friends were already there; and the sea views and numberless aquaria among the rocks made it one of the most enlivening and pleasant excursions we have had. The little pools left by the receding tide are perfect beauties; the rocks that enclose them are richly colored with salt water algae, and are studded all over with mussels, winkles, anemones, star-fish and sea urchins, while exquisite sea mosses float in the clear liquid. All these in the bright sunshine sparkle and glisten in alt the hues of the rainbow.

I must tell you of a stroll that we took last evening. Our young boatman, Vladimir is a Norwegian. His father, skipper and fisherman by turns, lives in "a cottage by the sea," which, although an appendage to the hotel, is out of sight and over the cliffs to the south. We had seen two of his little brothers and bought some of the pretty bouquets that they bring for sale, and felt inclined to know their mother and encourage her to have her children taught to read English. A. breezy walk soon brought us to the "tiptop," where we see the Atlantic lying all round, with its shores and islands. A few minutes more and we were at the humble home. The mother was at the rear of her house, and advancing cautiously for fear of intruding, we asked it the flowers sold by her boys came from there, and whether we might, have some. She smiled, and in very broken English directed us to the garden, stepped into her kitchen for a pair of scissors, and returned followed by a troop of boys and girls. The little garden was neatly fenced,, and although so tiny, held us all and a multitude of lovely sweet peas, nasturtiums,, candy-tuft, larkspurs and coreopsis, and I know not what besides:—a little blaze and blush of beauty and fragrance;—every blossom as rich and perfect as if it had had all the fairies to water and tend it alone. We gave her the money we would pay for them, to show her how many to cut; but the good mother wanted us to enjoy them, and the little ones set to helping her, and we soon had an elegant profusion in our hands. We talked to the children to persuade them to learn to read the little books that we gave them, and one boy looked as if he would, if he had to set about it by himself. We then tried to cheer the mother in her bumble and laborious sphere, and when, in the simplest words I could use, I told her I hoped she taught her little flock to love God, to love Jesus, her sunburnt face looked sweetly grave, and she replied, "That's the best learning." She showed us her favorite passages in their well worn Norwegian Bible, and pointed upwards to the blue sky as to her real home. They miss the old church and the familiar tongue of their native land, and in speaking of it, Vladimir added, "Cioristiania is the beautiest place in the world."


This is a lovely, bright, mild, autumn morning. The spirit of the day of rest seems to brood over land and sea, as upon either hand I look from our pleasant windows on the gently heaving ocean and the neighboring coasts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine partially veiled in azure. So far from becoming weary of Appledore, its scenery and incidents grew more interesting. But our friends are gradually leaving, and our sojourn here seems highly typical of human life. We arrive strangers, and in the midst of numerous guests and the novel scenes ground us at first fed some confusion and indistinctness; hut by degrees knowledge increases, we become familiar with the various localities, aud learn how to avail ourselves of their advantages. Some of the persons surrounding us attract us, love spring up between us, we recognize the congeniality, and are mutually helpful and pleasing. Then comes the time for them to leave, or our own period of sojourn is over. Those who are about to depart bid adieu, walk down the narrow slip and enter the life-boat that carries them away to the steamer, anchored in deeper water; farewells are waved, they are borne away to the mainland, and those who watched them from the shore turn back with regretful loneliness to their temporary home and occupations.

But how I wish you could have seen the ocean in its majesty, as was our happy lot in the last week. Two storms at sea, the first of which just touched us, left their effects for us to witness. The first terminated in a heavy thunder shower in the evening. About 10 o'clock I found G. had gone down, and throwing on my waterproof, I followed. The large rain drops were still pattering on the plank walk, and the sea was rolling in wildly; loud voices were heard on the wind, and I feared some one bad been washed off from the rocks -But when we stood close to the verge of safety we discerned in the dim moonlight that it was only the boatmen securing the vessels which were in danger of being driven from their anchorage. It was a weird, solemn scene, full of fascination in its lonely desolateness. One star twinkled on the horizon, and slowly the clouds lifted, and all beyond them was serene as ever. We watched them till they rolled up to the zenith, and the moon shone with living silver on the troubled waters.

The next morning was gloriously bright and cool. We went over to the eastern side of the island and found the breakers rolling in and dashing on the rocks in awful majesty. There was no leaving such a scene hastily, and we staid till dinner time, enchained, enchanted. Miles of coast were feathered with spray rising far above the cliffs. Mingo island was buried in light, a dome of pearls, where it had been, rising and falling in the dazzling sunshine. A yacht passed us at a little distance with some acquaintance on board, but we thought nothing could equal the appearance of those green billows as we saw them from our craggy nook, curling and falling in emeralds and pearls. An invitation for a sail after dinner, however, was too much of a temptation, and nine or ten of us went out in the "Lone Star," and turned southward, passing between White and Star Islands. White Island lies a little to the westward, and is crowned with a light-house and the neat stone dwelling of its keeper,— the most abrupt and picturesque of any of the islands, as viewed from the water. I hope never to forget the more than earthly beauty of the entire scene as we sailed slowly along: the splendor of the sky, the vastness of the glittering ocean, the fountains and spires of immaculate whiteness rising from hidden rocks and reefs for leagues around us, in contrast with the deep, deep blue. Great waves mounting in successive hills of transparent greenness, with dark, shadowy hollows between, madly leaped up the projecting cliffs, and dashing clouds of spray over the topmost crags, fell back in a thousand cataracts of beauty. Broad mantles of pure satiny foam waved over the calmer waters where our yacht bore us safely on—safely, although my heart beat faster with a feeling of awe akin to fear. Rounding Star Island we passed on to the open sea, new scenes of similar magnificence ever before us. Just as we turned a point on Haley Island, an immense wave rose and slowly followed us, looking terrible in its grandeur, then curved at a high crest and threw an avalanche on the deep with thundering crash.

And now autumnal winds sound the notes for our departure, but long will Appledore live in our memories, together with gratitude to Him who has permitted us to share in its peaceful seclusion, its health giving breezes and its maritime loveliness.

Courtesy of

Please visit these ad partners.

News about Portsmouth from

Friday, February 23, 2018 
Please update your Flash Player to view content.
Please update your Flash Player to view content.
Please update your Flash Player to view content.

Copyright ® 1996-2016 All rights reserved. Privacy Statement
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Site maintained by ad-cetera graphics