Goose Rocks Beach by Any Other Name

Last week’s THROWBACK THURSDAY about the name changes at Kennebunk Beaches invited lots of comments and questions. Thanks for that! I love hearing about your experiences and your knowledge of our history. I also heard from people who were curious about how Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport got its name and if it was ever known by any other name. But of course, it was!

Goose Rocks Beach takes its name from two clusters of rocks between high and low water at the beach which were called the Goose Rocks for at least the last 170 years. Before the beach became densely populated by human summer bathers that scared them away, these rocks were home to thousands of wild geese. The geese, in turn, attracted gunning enthusiasts from far and wide. In 1853, it was reported in American Seamen’s Friend that Schooner Rachel Ann from Boston went ashore on September 22, 1852, on “Goose Rocks, a few miles east of Goat Island, Kennebunkport, and immediately went to pieces. The day was clear, and the wind off the land, the only man on deck being asleep. The sails, rigging, chains, were all saved and sold on the beach on the 24th.” No further mention is made about the fate of the sleeping sailor.

The first tourist hotel at the beach, Goose Rocks House, was built in 1870. They were still advertising gunning opportunities at the beach in their brochures. During the summer of 1892, the name Forest Beach was promoted by those looking to sell real estate at Goose Rocks Beach. The following announcement appeared In the July 12, 1893, issue of the Kennebunkport summer newspaper, The Wave. “It is not the proper thing now to speak of going to Goose Rocks. That locality is now known as Forest Beach. It is very old-fashioned to refer to it by its old and awkward name.”

The name Forest Beach did not last long. The first Beachwood summer Post Office opened April 11, 1895 in Orlando Dow’s Store. Orlando’s daughter, Florence, was the first Postmaster. The name of the beach was changed to ‘Beachwood’ in 1895.

Postcards show the name Beachwood from 1895 through 1929. Warrant Article 60 in the 1930 Town of Kennebunkport Annual Report reads, “To see if the Town will vote to have the so-called Beachwood Section resume its original name, and henceforth be known as Goose Rocks Beach, and so to instruct the municipal officers to have all signs leading to said section read, “Goose Rocks Beach” on petition of Fred W. Smith and 13 others.” The vote was positive.

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