Westport, so named because it was the westernmost port in the Massachusetts Bay
Colony, which was first settled in 1670 as a part of the town of Dartmouth by
members of the Sisson family. The river, and the land around it, was called
"Coaksett" in the original deed; the name now spelled "Acoaxet" lives on in the
southwestern community along the western branch of the Westport River. Like many
areas in the region, Westport was affected by invading Wampanoag Indians during
King Philip's War. Several small mills were built along the Westport River, and
in 1787, the town, along with the town of New Bedford, seceded from Dartmouth.
There were several cotton mills
along the river, the largest of which was at the junction of the river with Lake
Noquochoke on the Dartmouth town line. The Macomber turnip traces its ancestry
to turnips sowed in Westport shortly after 1876. During the Second World War, a
coastal defense installation was raised on Gooseberry Island. The town is now
mostly residential, with a large farming community. Horseneck Beach State
Reservation, located to the north and west of Gooseberry Island, is a popular
summer destination for many in the area.
There are several unofficial
localities within town; the most prominent of these are Acoaxet, Head of
Westport, South Westport, Westport Point, Central Village, and Westport Factory.
Acoaxet is unique among them, in that because of the west branch of the Westport
River, it is inaccessible by land except by passing through neighboring
Adamsville, Rhode Island. Westport is approximately 30 miles (48 km) southeast
of Providence, Rhode Island, and approximately 60 miles (97 km) south of Boston.