Guarding Goose Rocks

Visitors to Goose Rocks Beach have periodically been protected by Lifeguards and the Coast Guard throughout its history as a summer resort.

Mr. Coleman Joel, a 22-year-old Harvard Law student, perished trying to rescue a little girl named Betty Fairburn from the raging surf opposite the Downing cottage (Seen at top center) on August 15, 1928. The following season and for several subsequent seasons a lifeguard and a policeman were hired to patrol the beach every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The Coast Guard took over Goat Island lighthouse during WWII. Rotating crews lived at the Downing Cottage. They enforced the blackouts, patrolled Goose Rocks Beach, and manned the switch installed on a light pole at New Biddeford Rd and Kings Highway that shut off all the streetlights at once. There were no Lifeguards immediately after the war ended.

On July 20, 1946, 7-year-old John Hurley tragically drowned at Goose Rocks Beach. Within a month of the boy’s death, the Goose Rocks Association was organized to raise funds for a full-time lifeguard, a fulltime police officer, lifesaving dories on wheels, and tower chairs for the lifeguards.

Many thanks to John Pinel, for his lifelong research of Goose Rocks Beach history and for his Goose Rocks photo collection.

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