Phosphate, Potassium, Pisces and Poop: Surveying the Pacific Guano Company Anchorage of Woods Hole, MA, USA

Author(s): Raymond L Hayes

Year: 2018

Summary

An 1857 nautical chart of Great Harbor at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, details sailing instructions for ships entering this natural deepwater anchorage.  From 1859-1889 ships carrying seabird guano sailed into Great Harbor to unload at the Pacific Guano Company plant.  We have conducted a maritime archaeological reconnaissance survey of the anchorage, including the guano wharves. Submerged artifacts collected by local divers and remote sensing of the anchorage site show that seafaring trade in Caribbean and Peruvian guano, domestic phosphate rock, and local menhaden brought prosperity to investors from Boston and New York, while creating persistent health concerns for Irish immigrant workers and other residents. Analytical data reveal cultural preferences of this small coastal village during the 19th and 20th centuries.  Survey results suggest that the U.S. Guano Act of 1856 stimulated historical development of the commercial fertilizer industry that re-defined, vitalized and transformed Woods Hole into a marine science research center.

Cite this Record

Phosphate, Potassium, Pisces and Poop: Surveying the Pacific Guano Company Anchorage of Woods Hole, MA, USA. Raymond L Hayes. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441517)

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Keywords

General
anchorage Guano Recon

Geographic Keywords
North America United States of America

Temporal Keywords
1850-1900

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 250