, Gloucester, MA


November 23, 2012

The Mayor's Desk: Digital help in exploring Dogtown

On Thanksgiving day, we like to take a long family walk.

There are so many beautiful walking spots in Gloucester but there is one walk we had never done before. My mother-in-law’s suggestion, who was visiting from Virginia, was to find the Babson Boulders in Dogtown.

This idea was met with enthusiasm and we set out to plan our excursion. First up was to find a good map. We soon learned that there are many good maps of Dogtown which is a 5-square mile swath of woods and trails in the north of Gloucester. But finding a good map of the Boulder locations was a little more difficult.

The best map we discovered was produced and copyrighted in 2008 by Eric Bickernicks and can be found at The map has topographical marks, is neat and easy to read, and each Boulder is pinpointed to its GPS coordinate, which is listed. Using the map to plot our journey, we quickly realized what a challenge it was going to be with the three generations of Kirks.

According to the map, we could take a southern loop or a northern loop. The southern loop would allow us to see five Boulders in a relatively short walk. The northern loop was considerably longer (probably ten times longer!) and much more ambitious. In deference to the grandparents, we chose the shorter route for starters.

We met at the end of the Blackburn Industrial Park road, and parked near the communications tower. With octogenarians, quadrupeds, grandchildren, and adults in tow, we set out to find Babson Boulders.

Coming upon each one was a delight. At every stop we tried to arrange the family members into a photograph that was suited for the saying on the boulder. “Be clean” was reserved for the children and teenagers among us. “Save” was a message from the grandparents to the grandchildren. “Get a job” was another one that we all insisted the teenagers pose with. “Be true” is one where we took photos of siblings.

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