Founded in 1643, the region that would become Innsmouth was first settled by the Hogg, Eliot, Marsh and Martin families of nearby Newbury. In 1678 a shipyard was opened by Thomas Martin, and industry supposed by the increasingly prosperous trade in codfish. Additional shipyards were opened and prosperity embraced the town early. The first Innsmouth voyage to the West Indies was made in 1662, and there after ever-expanding trade was conducted from the town to the East Indies, the South Pacific and China. However, to avoid ever increasingly provisions of Britain's Trade Acts, early traders found smuggling their only available recourse. Illegal cargoes were unloaded far offshore, then secreted into the town by way of a complex of sea caves and man-made tunnels running under parts of the town.
By the 1800s, an unfortunate series of maritime disasters crippled the town's growth. During that time, the town's interests had turned to industry, spurred in part by the Marsh gold refinery that operated on the banks of the Manuxet River. But the Industrial Revolution never caught fire in Innsmouth, and the failing fishing industry added to the town's woes. In 1846 the town was struck by a plague, believed to have been carried into town by a ship returned from the South Pacific. Although little is known of the incident, riots eventually broke out resulting in the deaths of dozens of individuals. By the time of the Civil War, Innsmouth had fallen into a steep decline.
By the 1900s, Innsmouth was a shadow of its former self, a half-deserted seacost town forgotten by time. Most of its residents are of old stock, rooted to the land by time and tradition. However, over generations many residents in Innsmouth developed what was referred to as the "Innsmouth Look". Variously blamed on inbreeding, or the long-term result of the plague that swept through in the 19th century, it is characterized by large, distended eyes, a general broadening of the mouth, and a stooping posture. Skin diseases resulting in a scaling, flaking condition often accompany it. Later stages of the malady result in an enlargement of the hands and feet and a change in hip structure that results in a hopping, shuffling gait.
Many of the neighboring towns avoided Innsmouth and the people from it. The main religion was "tainted" by most accounts and the city was run by the Esoteric Order of Dagon, which practiced openly as opposed to Mason leaders in other towns. Most from Innsmouth were just as secluded, not wishing to spend time out of their town, especially the older residents.
In February of 1928, U.S. Treasury agents raided the town in a massive raid that was assisted by the U.S. military to put an end to a large bootlegging and smuggling ring operated by anarchists. Over 200 residents of Innsmouth were arrested and detained in internment camps. There was local outrage at the time, but eventually the public's attentions waned and it was forgotten.
Now, Innsmouth is a shell of its former self. The 1928 raid ended with nearly half the town arrested or missing and the town is now a collection of abandoned buildings. Of the hundred or so residents who still remain in the area, many are squatters and others are fishers, eeking out a living on their own with Innsmouth's old fishing routes.
Along the sandy and rocky shores of the inlets northeast of town are several sea-caves. Found throughout the inlets, the southernmost shores have rocky sea-caves which lead under portions of the town. Expanded by smugglers from centuries past, these tunnels were connected to buildings and access points in the town. Many of these tunnels and caverns were collapsed during the 1928 raid.
Return to Locations