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Shooting Star

A cannon with a famous pedigree



British cannon captured by John Paul Jones is still emplaced at Fort Phoenix, the ruins of a Revolutionary War-era fort built to protect New Bedford Harbor; cast in 1690, the cannon bears the imprint of the royal lion’s head with crown, but proved no match for attacking British troops who captured the fort and blew it up on September 5, 1778. Later rebuilt from the ashes—hence its new name—Fort Phoenix was used again to ward off a War of 1812 attack by the HMS Nimrod on June 13, 1814. The fort was decommissioned in 1876.


Joshua Slocum spent 18 months on Fairhaven’s Poverty Point, off Pilgrim Avenue, fitting out a broken-down oyster boat in which he would become the first man to sail alone around the world. Slocum’s voyage aboard the 36-foot Spray started in Boston on April 24, 1895, and ended 46,000 miles later at Newport, Rhode Island, on June 27, 1898. A memorial commemorates the feat.