Rye’s Battle of the Century – Saving the New Hampshire Seacoast from Olympic Oil

by Lisa Moll

Rye's Battle of the Century - Saving the NH Seacoast“Two ladies of Rye thwart pipeline plans – Two elderly Rye women are blocking Olympic’s effort to complete a pipeline right-of-way from the coast to Durham Point. Frances Tucker and her sister Bernice Remick have refused repeated offers to buy their 55-acre farm on Brackett Road, which is directly in the path of the proposed pipeline. Mrs. Tucker and Miss Remick refused the latest Olympic bid last week when Jeff Marple of Marple Associates, Portsmouth, working on Olympic’s behalf, offered $200,000 for the property.” — published in Publick Occurrences, March 1, 1974.

The Rye (NH) Historical Society is glad to play a part in telling this crucial story of town and regional history. Its lessons for today in fighting inappropriate, brute force technology are readily apparent.

The early 1970s was a troubled time in the United States. The economy was fumbling after two decades of prosperity. In January 1973, Meldrim Thomson began the first of three terms as governor of New Hampshire. At the start, he began advocating for an oil refinery and nuclear power plant in New Hampshire.

On January 23, 1974, in the small coastal community of Rye, New Hampshire, nearly a thousand residents came out in the bitter cold to pack the gymnasium beyond capacity. The crowd was an eclectic mix—new families with young children sat down next to town elders, with deep ancestral roots, and streets that bear their names. The well-heeled set from Rye Beach stood alongside the ­lobstermen of Rye Harbor, who earn a living out of these waters, and don’t take kindly to jawbone speeches. They all wanted one thing—answers. The media had been covering the story for months, trying to nail down details. An oil refinery was coming to New Hampshire, the largest ever built from the ground-up in the United States, and it was going to be a $600 million project. Aristotle Onassis, the Greek shipping tycoon, was going to build it—right through the heart of New Hampshire’s seacoast.

“This book is an excellent reminder of the power of grass roots protest. Now, every time I visit the New Hampshire shoreline, I say a “thank you” to all of the people who fought the then Gov. of NH and Aristotle Onassis’s 1970s plan to build one of the largest oil refineries in the world on our small but beautiful seacoast. And a special thank you to the Remick sisters of Rye, who refused to sell their land to Olympic Oil, thereby stopping the progress of their plan in its tracks. New Hampshire would be a very different place if those oil refineries had been built here. Instead, we have a beautifully preserved coastline, lovely beaches, clean water, and clean air.” — Grace Peirce, Great Life Press, Rye NH

About the Author

When this book was written, Lisa Moll was a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire pursuing a Master of Arts degree in liberal studies. She lives in Rye, New Hampshire, with her husband and twin daughters.

Product Details

Paperback, 6×9, 134 pages, 90 illustrations
Published by Rye (NH) Historical Society
ISBN: 978-0-692-69208-0
Available on Amazon and from Rye Historical Society

Services Provided

Proofreading, print design and layout, assistance with setup of Amazon KDP account, and all phases of the self-publishing journey.