Another Roadside Attraction: Salty the Seahorse

Salty the Seahorse, Mattapoisett, Massachusetts.

When I drive through small towns, I enjoy seeing what, if anything, they’ve done about public space (parks, greenspace, etc.). Often enough, the public spaces have objects in them as decoration or to commemorate something. My least favorite such things are old pieces of military hardward, which in my mind represent the worst of humanity (war and killing).

Several days ago we went to New Bedford for a bit of shopping, then lunch, and, of course, me taking photos. We drove back towards Cape Cod on Route 6 (eschewing the freeways). We passed through several small communities including Mattapoisett. I read that this town was a center of shipbuilding back in the days of wood and sail. There is a small park by the side of the road, and in that park I spied the seahorse sculpture pictured above. It is quite tall, twenty feet or more. I’ve been unable to discover how it came to be there (despite a call to the town’s parks department–which went unreturned so far).  It was a lovely day, sunny and temps in the 70s. Naturally, there was not a soul in the park. That is unremarkable in that I seldom see anyone in the small town parks I drive by when travelling.

UPDATE: (a bit of google)

Mattapoisett residents love Salty the Seahorse. For more than a half-century, this 38-foot-tall bluish-green statue has stood beside Route 6, and it remains one of the most unique roadside attractions in the state. Bill Griffith, creator of the “Zippy the Pinhead” comic strip, featured the seahorse in one of his nationally syndicated comic strips.

The seahorse was built by local businessman Henry Dunseith, who owned a souvenir shop at the corner of North Street and Route 6. Dunseith died in 1988, and willed his property to the Mattapoisett Land Trust.

His gift shop was demolished; landscaped gardens and a gazebo now occupy the site. When a proposal to move the seahorse came up, residents rallied to keep the weathered statue where it had always been.

Volunteers worked hard to restore the local landmark, and the seahorse was taken to a boatbuilding shop for repairs. The electrical wiring that powered the seahorse’s single blue eye was removed and replaced with a solar energy device donated by NStar. Then the Mattapoisett Land Trust held a contest to give it a name.

On June 3, 2000, the newly refurbished mascot of Route 6 became known as Salty.

No matter, I liked the statue, and pulled off the road to get its picture. Other photos from the day’s outing can be seen over on my Flickr page if anyone wants to go look (and I may add more here). I took the photo below in the same little park, it’s an old navigational aid, a bell buoy to be exact.

4 responses to “Another Roadside Attraction: Salty the Seahorse

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