Many year-round residents of Aquinnah are descendants of the Wampanoag Indians who showed the colonial settlers how to kill whales, plant corn, and find clay for the early brickyards. Much later, these Aquinnah Indians were in great demand as boatsteerers in the whaling fleets. It was the boatsteerer who cast the iron into the whale. The Aquinnah Indians were judged to be the most skillful and courageous boatsteerers of that era.
The brilliant colors of the mile-long expanse of the Aquinnah Cliffs astonished early explorers and have continued to be a source of intense interest to scientists and visitors alike.

Chilmark is a town of rolling hills and unmatched coastline. Not so long ago uninhabited except for an occasional farm or fishing village, it now provides the setting for many a summer home.

The stone fences of the sheep farms still ribbon the hills, while the old stone animal pound stands on the South Road, a reminder of the days when a gate left open resulted in a roaming flock and a fine for its owner.

One of New England’s most elegant com­munities, Edgartown was the Island’s first colonial settlement and it has been the county seat since 1642. The stately white Greek Revival houses built by the whaling captains have been carefully maintained. They make the town a museum-piece community, a seaport village preserved from the early 19th century.

Main Street is a picture-book setting with its harbor and waterfront. The tall square-rigged ships that sailed all the world’s oceans have passed from the Edgartown scene, but the heritage of those vessels and their captains has continued. For the past hundred years Edgartown has been one of the world’s great yachting centers.

To view and appreciate this town fully, you must walk its streets. North Water Street has a row of captains’ houses not equaled anywhere. Study the fanlights and widows walks by day and stroll down the streets after the lamps are lit

Courtesy of the Marth'a Vineyard Chamber of Commerce

Oak Bluffs
In 1835 this community served as the site for annual summer camp meetings when Methodist church groups found the groves and pastures of Martha’s Vineyard particularly well suited to all-day gospel sessions.
Oak Bluffs is also the home of the Flying Horses Carousel, the oldest continuously operating carousel in the country. Its horses were hand carved in New York City in 1876. This historic landmark is maintained by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust. It is open daily during the summer, and on weekends in the spring and fall.

Vineyard Haven
Excellent shops, fine restaurants, and a beautiful harbor are only a few of the attractions that make Vineyard Haven so special to tourists and residents alike.

The town that incorporates Vineyard Haven is called Tisbury, after a parish in England near the birthplace of the Island’s first governor, Thomas Mayhew. English settlement of the area dates from the mid-1600s, when Mayhew purchased the settlement rights from the Crown.

There are many scenic places around the town: in addition to Main Street and the harbor, the Tashmoo Lake overlook on State Road, the nearby Tisbury Water Works, West Chop Lighthouse, and the area around the drawbridge on Beach Road are favorite spots for photographers.

West Tisbury
It was the mill site that originally attracted settlers, because there was no stream in Edgartown strong enough to dam for a water wheel. The grist mill gave way in 1847 to the manufacture of satinet, a heavy fabric for whalemen’s jackets made from Island wool.

The Congregational Church on State Road is always open to visitors. Other points of interest are Cedar Tree Neck Nature Preserve, the Polly Hill Arboretum, and the Christiantown Memorial.

The Arboretum contains more than 200 species of trees, a picnic area, and Visitors’ Center. A complete description appears in the Conservation and Recreation section of this Almanac.

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