Every oddly named road has a history behind it, and sometimes a mystery. Tarkettle Road, which runs from South Midway Road to West Neck Harbor, is one that contains both.
To discover how Tarkettle Road got its name, we had to ask some folks who have lived in the area for quite a while.
According to area resident and amateur historian Paul Rendeiro, the little lane is named for a ship’s kettle that found its way onto an Island beach near the present location in the early 1900s. Where it came from is one mystery.
Tar was, according to The Historic Naval Ships Association, a “liquid gum of blackish hue, which distils from pines, or fir-trees: when prepared by boiling [in the kettle], it is used in tarring ropes” to strengthen them against saltwater.
Inhabitants of Tarkettle were excited enough by the discovery of the kettle to name their sandy path after it.
What happened to the kettle?
Lauren Dickerson, who lives on Tarkettle with her father, William Dickerson, revealed another twist in the tale: it was stolen in the mid-1960s.
“At least, that’s what my mom told me,” Ms. Dickerson said. And Mr. Dickerson, added, “I can’t tell you if it was stolen, but I can tell you it was missing.” And it has stayed missing.
A driver taking Tarkettle Road will see that the Dickersons have a kettle at the end of their driveway, in honor of their road and its history. During the summer it’s filled with flowers.
Farther down on the right is another kettle, squatting beneath a tripod of wooden poles. This installation is actually a replica of the original, purloined kettle, according to Ms. Dickerson.
To the right is Menantic Creek and the Island Boatyard, and to the left, Dickerson Creek. At the end is Grace’s Lane, a peaceful spot where the creek meets the harbor.
“I hope this is true, and not a tale,” Mr. Rendeiro said, after giving the Reporter his version of the mystery.
It’s said that all lore has a basis in fact, and if that’s true, somewhere there is an old kettle whose owner may or may not know of its history that named a road.