The Portland Gale

It is estimated that over 150 vessels were lost, both in the harbors and at sea.

Many were never heard from after sailing. Miles of coastline from Buzzards Bay to Cape Ann were strewn with wreckage. A Boston pilot vessel was smashed against a house in Quincy. The physical appearance of the shoreline was altered by the wind and waves. The snowfall was very deep. Telephone and telegraph lines were down everywhere the storm had hit. Wreckage and bodies from the ill-fated steamer washed ashore along the entire backside of Cape Cod.

The Portland Gale was a storm that struck the coast of New England on November 26 and 27, 1898. The storm formed when two low pressure areas merged off the coast of Virginia and travelled up the coast; at its peak, it produced a storm surge of about ten feet in Cohasset harbor and hurricane-force winds in Nantucket. The storm killed more than 400 persons and sank more than 150 boats and ships. It also changed the course of the North River, separating the Humarock portion of Scituate, Massachusetts, from the rest of Scituate.

On November 26, 1898, the steamship SS Portland left India Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts, for Portland, Maine, on a regularly scheduled run. She never made it to port. None of the 192 passengers and crew survived the massive storm that wreaked havoc on New England's coast — a storm that was later dubbed "the Portland Gale" after the tragic loss of the ship.

For years, controversy reigned as to the location of the ill-fated ship. In the summer of 2002, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, joined by the National Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut (UConn), solved the mystery surrounding the Portland's location. Using data from American Underwater Search and Survey, they brought back images from the sea floor that conclusively identified the remains of the steamship Portland.