The Isles of Shoals was almost part of an Oil Refinery!

I had read a little bit about this part of our Isles of Shoals history, but it was greatly illuminated last week at ISHRA – Isles of Shoals History and Research Association‘s annual meeting at the Seacoast Science Center.


Dudley Dudley was the theme speaker, and was truly riveting.  She began and ended with personal parts of her story and the middle was fascinating and nail biting, even though we obviously knew the outcome, since there are no massive oil tankers at the Shoals.  There were many touching moments, such as when her husband had met Oscar Laighton when he was a child, and when she recalled a son who said he loved his father so much he loved him to the Isles of Shoals and back.

In 1973 Aristotle Onassis wanted to pipe oil right off Lunging Island up to Durham, NH where an oil refinery would be built.  The largest part of activism thwarting the process came from the town of Durham itself, aided greatly by Dudley and her fellow activists.  They formed Save Our Shores (SOS) and turned around what was a rather favorable opinion of the project in the rest of NH.  They were in a fuel crisis, after all, and were being misled by a number of false opinions on the topic.  If you’re a member of ISHRA you can read about it in the Spring issue of their newsletter.  (If you’re not a member, you should think about becoming one, they are seriously rad). There is also a book Oil and Water, the New Hampshire Story, written by John Kingsbury, that you can find in the Vaughn library when you come this summer!

Really we cannot thank Dudley enough that the oil business was not the fate of our fair isles.  She had displayed on the podium, and on the screen as well, a picture of Lunging Island and behind it superimposed a supertanker, to scale, and it was larger than the entire  island.  I left with relief and awe and gratitude.  There was a standing ovation, and I hope she heard our many thanks, those spoken and those held in our hearts.

2 thoughts on “The Isles of Shoals was almost part of an Oil Refinery!

  1. Oh, I remember this and working with Dudley and a number of State Representatives on a statewide scale to stop this. I was a volunteer from Lebanon, NH. One of the things I remember specifically is the televising of the Durham Town Meeting with representatives from Onassis, as I recall. The lobstermen were amazing! They asked questions about the waves that these supertankers were built to withstand, as well as the stopping distance required. They each testified to personally witnessing many, many times waves much higher than these experts had predicted to be the highest in the North Atlantic. It was a proud day when the people of Durham said no to their developing in the Great Bay area.

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