119 HMS Halsted Dr, Hingham, MA 02043, USA
Owned By: Town of Hingham
A half mile trail along the shoreline and through the woods, at Hewitts Cove. Gorgeous views of the Boston skyline, Grape Island, the Hingham Shipyard, the Weymouth Back River, and Weymouth Neck. Look for the historic marker between the parking area and the trailhead. It’s one of many scattered throughout the Hingham Shipyard. Connects with Creedon Memorial Park & Hewitts Landing Walkway.
The Hingham Shipyard once stood on this site. It was established as World War II began, and it was truly a bustling place! Before the United States entered the war, it offered to lend many of its naval ships to England. However the vessels were remnants from World War I, and rather outmoded. The Navy designed a new ship, the Destroyer Escort, contracted with Bethlehem Steel to build it, and commissioned a new shipyard where this work would be done. (Bethlehem Steel’s existing shipyards were already working at full capacity.) Hingham’s deep harbor and relative lack of waterfront development made it a prime site.
As 1941 drew to a close, construction teams arrived in Hingham to clear 150 acres of land, erect a steel mill on site, and construct wooden cradles in which the ships would be built. At least 12 cranes were brought to the site as well. Each ship would require more than 1,000 workers. Since most men aged 18+ were heading off to war, many of the workers were either teenagers, or those who were otherwise ineligible to join the military. Bethlehem Steel brought in 400 veteran workers. Close to 15,000 others joined the ranks, including 2500 women. Rather than construct one ship at a time, the shipyard devised an extraordinary mass production system that produced six completed ships per month!
From 1942-1945, a total of 227 warships were built and launched at the Hingham Shipyard. This included 100 Destroyer Escort ships as well as 127 Landing Ship Tanks. A full list of these vessels, including name, number, and launch date, is posted on a series of interpretive signs along the Hingham Shipyard Waterfront Walkway. Numerous British Naval ships were built there as well.
This land is within the region of the Massachuseuk (or Massachusett) Native American tribe.
Follow the Back River Watershed Association for more information about the Weymouth Back River.
To find the trail, first find the designated parking spots on HMS Halsted Drive, at the rear of the Hingham Shipyard residential development. Turn toward the water. Access the trailhead by walking between two condo units. Then you’ll see the property sign and a wooden staircase that leads down to the beach. There is a trail to the right that extends along the top of a ridge, through the woods, to the Wompatuck Road/Beach Lane neighborhood. Along the way you’ll find rocky outcroppings and numerous water views. You can also walk along the shoreline. Either way, this isn’t the easiest footing, so proceed with caution. Altogether the trail covers about a half mile, with various short spur trails often leading to overlooks.
If you turn the wrong way when you arrive (and go away from the water), you may end up on the dirt path the extends between the shipyard and Allerton House and into a small woodland. It’s a natural setting with some hints of earlier industrial use, but it’s nothing compared to the trails at Bouve!
Habitats and Wildlife
The woods here are mostly oak and beech, with some birch, cedar, and sumac. Also of note: the slate cliffs along the shoreline.
This property is located near the mouth of the Weymouth Back River, which rises from several ponds and swamps, including Whitman’s Pond in Weymouth. It flows for about 10 miles, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Hingham Bay, just south of Grape Island and Slate Island.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 32 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Limited parking (look for the signs) on HMS Halsted Drive, near #119.
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium
Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Weymouth Back River