Bikes, boats, and history

Field in northeastern Enfield

What do high-end custom bicycles, fishing boats, and a tiny corner of the town of Enfield, New Hampshire, have in common? Seemingly, not very much. One is a high-tech road machine hand-built and available for purchase at a cost of thousands of dollars, another is a traditional fishing vessel that dates back to post-Revolutionary America, and the last is sparsely populated, historically pastoral neighborhood in the Mascoma River Valley.

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The Parlee Chebacco bicycle is handcrafted from carbon fiber with a geometry that gives the rider a smooth and stable ride. Parlee’s designers routed the rear brake hose through the downtube and chainstay, and this allows the disc brake caliper to be mounted inside the triangle. Disc brakes free up the space between the seat stays, which allows for wider tires. All of this combines to make the Chebacco a choice mount for gravel, dirt, and mixed surface rides.

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Fishermen of the late 1700s and into the early 1900s rode the seas to the fishing grounds off the coast of Gloucester in an entirely different type of Chebacco. With two masts stepped forward of the beam and a sharp, high stern called a pink, the thirty-foot Chebacco was well-suited as a fishing vessel. The low midship rail allowed the fishermen to cast and haul lines that were twenty-five to sixty fathoms long and carried a ten-pound lead weight.

The wedge-shaped section of Enfield bounded by the borders of Grafton and Canaan and bisected by Lockehaven Road was once known as Chebacco. In fact, Lockehaven Road itself was formerly called Chebacco Street. The fairly level, rolling land in this northeast portion of Enfield was transformed by settlers from forest to farmland in the 1760s.

The link between these three disparate entities lies entirely in their names.

Chebacco is an Abenaki word that means “area in between,” and referred to the tidal flats between the Ipswich and Annisquam rivers in northeastern Massachusetts. Early colonial settlers used the name for a settlement in southern Ipswich, called “Chebacco Parish,” and it was home to many fishermen and shipbuilders. The first Chebacco fishing boats were built here.

1795 Ipswich village map

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The Old Chebacco Burying Ground, established 1680

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Parlee Cycles is headquartered in Beverly, Massachusetts, just south of Ipswich and the region still known locally as Chebacco. The Chebacco region is networked with centuries-old roads and trails, which were the inspiration for the design of the bike Parlee introduced in 2016 to capitalize on the burgeoning gravel cycling industry.

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And finally, the Chebacco neighborhood of Enfield, New Hampshire, was settled by men who arrived there in the 1760s from Chebacco Parish of Ipswich, perhaps looking for a safer livelihood than the cold and dangerous waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. However much they sought a fresh start, they retained enough nostalgia for their birthplace to name their new home after their old one.

Enfield home built 1797 by John and Priscilla Story


Enfield Historical Society, Enfield, New Hampshire 1761-2000: The History of a Town Influenced by the Shakers. Edited by Nancy Blanchard Sanborn. Portsmouth, N.H.: Peter E. Randall Publisher, 2006

Mary Ellen Lepionka,

Mount Desert Island Historical Society,


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