Pets: Pets are not permitted in the park
More Information: Natural Features
Odiorne Point is the largest undeveloped stretch of shore on New Hampshire's
eighteen mile coast. Located three miles south of Portsmouth on Route
1A in Rye, Odiorne offers an extensive array of habitats. On the south
end of the park, sheltered tide pools of the Sunken Forest give way
to an exposed rocky shore. Just north, the shore evolves into a pebble
beach which shelters a fresh water marsh. Along the way to Frost Point
where a jetty extends into Little Harbor, lies a small sand dune environment.
At the end of Little Harbor, Seavey Creek feeds the neighboring salt
marsh. Extensive inland disturbances during World War II induced the
growth of dense forests in various stages of succession. Large stone
walls bound open fields. Fresh water systems are represented within
the park by a man-made pond and marsh. Remnants of formal gardens and
wildflowers grow side by side; and the man-made military bunkers lie
hidden under mounds of earth.
In the dense growth of shrubs and vines, covering much of the park's
330 acres, remnants of Odiorne's past silently remain. Reminders of
other eras and stark contrasts; idyllic summer estates and gaunt reminders
of coastal fortifications. In terms of man and his settlement of this
coastal land, Odiorne Point remained a true wilderness until almost
400 years ago. During summer migrations Native Americans of Pennacook
and Abnaki tribes visited the area which they called Pannaway. Permanent
settlement began in the 1600s.
an agent of England's Council for New England cameto fish and trade
in the New World. David Thomson journeyed to New England on the ship
Jonathan to establish the first New Hampshire settlement at what would
become Odiorne Point. Many others followed, and the original settlement
grew and spread along the coast and up the river.
joined the settlement in 1660. He acquired several acres of land from
the shoreline west into the marshes beyond. Like the others, he farmed
and fished. The Odiornes remained on the property for several generations,
always a part of the continuing changes in the Odiorne Point community.
1700s the settlement was well established, but the governing and trading
activities had moved north into the deep harbor area of Strawberry Banke
(now Portsmouth). The farms of Odiorne Point helped to feed the burgeoning
port of Portsmouth for about 150 years.
Civil War farming gradually gave way to a colony of hotels and large
summer homes. Generations of families spent their summers by the sea.
In this era of large seaside resorts, a grand hotel called the Sagamore
House was built on the property. Over the years smaller parcels of land
were sold for summer homes and estates. Formal gardens and tree-lined
drives ornamented the properties. By the late 1930s seventeen families
lived on Odiorne Point, including an eighth generation descendent of
John Odiorne and the last of the Odiornes to live on the ancestral homestead.
II (WWII) brought drastic changes to the landscape and to the lives
of these people who loved their land by the sea. In 1942 the federal
government purchased all the property from Little Harbor to the Sunken
Forest, as well as the adjacent marshland. Within a month the Odiornes
and their neighbors were gone.
structures were quickly built to house personnel, armaments and supplies.
Massive concrete casements, often called bunkers, were constructed and
camouflaged with thick vegetation. Because of their open aspect to the
sea, many of the estates were demolished, and Route 1A was closed. Odiorne
Point became known as Fort Dearborn, and for nearly twenty years, was
part of the chain of coastal defenses that protected Portsmouth Harbor
and the naval shipyard. In the late 1950s Fort Dearborn was declared
surplus property. It was sold to the state of New Hampshire for $91,000
Odiorne Point is open daily year-round. Picnickers can enjoy sweeping
views of the ocean and rocky shore, and explorers can uncover evidence
of past military occupation. An extensive network of trails, including
a paved bike path, wind through the dense vegetation and traverse the
park. The Seacoast Science Center which is located in the park has exhibits
relating to the natural and human history of Odiorne and the seacoast
Located within Odiorne Point State Park is the Seacoast Science Center,
which features exhibits relating to the natural and human history of
Odiorne and the seacoast area. Special educational programs are offered
to school groups, families and the general public. Visitors are welcome
to touch and learn about tide pool animals in the indoor touch tank,
watch deep ocean fish swim the the one thousand-gallon Gulf of Maine
tank, and follow nearly four centuries of local history on a walk through
time. The science center is open daily year-round. There is a separate
admission fee charged for the center and some of the programs that are
offered. The Seacoast Science Center is managed by the Audubon Society
of New Hampshire under contract to the N.H. Division of Parks and Recreation,
in affiliation with the Friends of Odiorne Point, Inc. and the UNH Cooperative
Extension Sea Grant Program.
This information was posted on June 24, 2008 and all information, services and fees are
subject to change.
Odiorne offers a great location for group outings. Odiorne offers a great location for group outings.
A separate picnic area overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is an ideal spot for family reunions, class picnics, weddings and office outings.
To reserve the group picnic area for an upcoming activity, call 603-436-1552.