Historical Sites

Life Saving Station

Positioned at the base of Fourth Cliff, this was the location of a Humane Society Life Saving Station from 1879 to 1915.  The Humane Society was a precursor to the U. S. Coast Guard. While we consider this an important historic site, there is currently no marker in place.


The Fourth Cliff Lifesaving Station (part of The Humane Society, which later became the United States Coast Guard, was located in a remote spot on the south side of Fourth Cliff, just under the big bluff. It was built in 1879 and burned down in 1915 or 1919. It was not rebuilt, because by then the Coast Guard was using different boats and different ports.

Captain J. H. Smith was the first keeper of the Fourth Cliff Lifesaving Station. He was succeeded by Captain Frederick Stanley, who served for many years. The Lifesaving Station had a crew of 7 men and a 25-foot lifeboat. The northern patrol route was across the gravel road on the shingle beach between Fourth and Third Cliffs, all the way up to First Cliff, along the water. The southern route was to the mouth of the river, about 3 miles, near present-day Rexhame Beach. The Hotel Humarock was about 1.5 miles south of the lifesaving station. In between were low-lying sand dunes. The walk between was tough in inclement weather. The patrolmen were blasted with wind, sand, salt spray and water. Their job was to watch for ships in distress, and to employ lifeboats, surfboats, and the breeches buoy to conduct rescues.

The bridge at Sea Street in Marshfield, which crosses the South River to Marshfield Avenue in Humarock, is named for Captain Frederick Stanley. It was built in 1888, rebuilt in 1952, and formally dedicated in 1998, to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Portland Gale. It was replaced in 2007.

Trail Description

No trails. This historic site is now occupied by private homes and public roads. Unfortunately nothing remains of the Life Saving Station.

Habitats and Wildlife

The base of Fourth Cliff is an area that is often washed over with storm tides and surges. This is a very narrow, low strip of land toward the northern tip of Humarock. Stones are deposited there regularly to prevent erosion.

42.155332, -70.701882

Historic Site: Yes

Park: No

Beach: No

Lifeguards: No

Parking: No public parking available.

Trail Difficulty: No trails.



Dogs: No

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: No

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: South River

Other Things to Do at This Site