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Cornelia Carey Sanctuary

The Cornelia Carey Sanctuary (the Knob) in Woods Hole is a serene nature walk with spectacular views of Buzzards Bay. The Knob, which hugs the warm waters of Quissett Harbor, is also an ideal habitat for waterfowl and other birds. Over the years, at the bird sanctuary birdwatchers have seen more than a hundred species of birds in the salt marshes that line this coastal bank.

Woods Hole resident Cornelia Carey donated the Knob to the Salt Pond Area Bird Sanctuaries in the early 1970s. Before then, the land was part of the historic Quissett Harbor House, a popular summer resort run by the Carey family. Visitors can still view several of the old resort buildings in the parts of the sanctuary adjacent to Quissett Harbor Road.

From Quissett Harbor Road, a meandering walking path leads to the Knob overlook. The path, which is about a mile long, is perfect for leisurely strolls. On the north side, steps connect the path with the sandy shores of Crescent Beach. Before Cornelia Carey donated the Knob to the town, she added the distinctive flat boulders that protect the thin strip of land from erosion.

From atop the Knob, visitors have stunning views of Buzzards Bay and the surrounding land. On a clear day, visitors can see New Bedford and Rhode Island to the west, the Elizabeth Islands to the south, and the Cape Cod Canal to the north. There’s plenty of room, on top of the Knob, for more than two dozen people to catch a sunset or watch boat traffic travel through the canal.

The sparkling waters of Buzzards Bay are a critical habitat for birds and other wildlife. For most of the nineteenth century, the bay was also the most important whaling port in the world. When the whaling industry in New Bedford reached its height in 1856, the town’s whaling fleet included more than three hundred vessels. In Moby Dick, the journey across Buzzards Bay to Nantucket is the first adventure for protagonists Ishmael and Queequeg.

Quissett Harbor, in Woods Hole, is one of the best protected harbors in Buzzards Bay. The Knob hugs the harbor, sheltering it from storms. According to local historians, “quissett” is an adaptation of “quamquissett,” which means “star of the sea” in the Massachusetts language. Native Americans named the harbor “quamquissett” because it has five points: the bay, Gansett Point, the outer harbor, Muddy Cove, and the inner harbor.

Trail heading to the Knob
The Knob overlooking massive Buzzards Bay
The well-protected Quissett Harbor in Woods Hole
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