Skip to content

Home > Collections, Archives, and Exhibitions > Exhibitions > From Clam Flats to Clam Shacks: Clamming on Massachusetts' North Shore

From Clam Flats to Clam Shacks: Clamming on Massachusetts' North Shore

“The Shoreman does not claim to be a philosopher. …He believes, however, that affairs would be settled more quickly if all men had an opportunity to dig a few clams.”
-Haydn Sanborn Pearson,
"Sea Flavor,"1948.

Gathered from mud flats during low tide using a simple fork and a basket, the clam has long been called "humble," "unobtrusive," and "modest." Yet over the course of the last century this mollusk has become the very basis for the identity of communities along the Massachusetts North Shore. As a symbol of New England, the humble clam tells a mighty story.

Clams have come a long way from their use in the colonial era as pig food and fishing bait. At prices ranging from $90 to $160 per bushel, these shellfish are now a luxury food enjoyed by tourists in clam shacks by the sea, and by inland city-dwellers alike. The clam’s is a story of consumers, but also of diggers, and a way of life born from the changing tides of industry. Today, the clam diggers of the North Shore balance time-honored practices and new challenges, while pulling our heritage from the sand.

Meet our clam experts.

Select an image below to view each section.

 A New Commodity
Oh What an Appetite One Gets Here

 A New England Symbol
Souvenir of Old Home Week

 A Local Treasure
I Believe You Have the Shanties

 A Resource to Protect
Baby Clam

 A Way of Life
Three Generations 2

 Learn More
How Would You Like to Have Some of These Fried?

From Clam Flats to Clam Shacks: Clamming on Massachusetts' North Shore