Lovecraftians are well aware that Newport, Rhode Island, was one of the master’s favourite local places. Many will also recall that this old coastal town was only readily and affordably accessible to him by occasional passenger-boat, especially when discounted day-trip tickets were on offer. Though as you can see from this map from the same era, there was a back automobile road to it from the north. But presumably he found the boat preferable to taking a series of stuffy summer buses and juddering trams from Providence. Possibly the big bridge seen on the map also charged a toll.
So far as I recall he always departed the town at the end of the day. Mythos writers may spot an opportunity in that fact, for a new story explaining why spending a night in Newport might be a fearsome thing. I’ve found some ‘night in Newport’ visual prompts for such a story.
This is quite possibly a dusk view that Lovecraft knew, seen from the stern as the passenger boat eased from the passenger docks at Newport Harbour and ran out past the Goat Island light. In some instances, the cheaper boat he favoured went back later than the more expensive one. In the picture one can see the rounded sterns of two docked passenger boats, beyond Goat Island Light.
Above is the same view but in a fine early silhouette picture. I recall he did at least once visit the town in winter, so an evening departure might well have displayed such a scene. The lights seen on the right are of docked passenger boats, rather than the town rising behind them.
Here are a few others of Newport by (painted-in) moonlight…
And finally a delightful card which some Lovecraftian RPG artist will surely want as a picture-reference, though it is not of Newport.
This is Bristol, which sits on the same coast but is some miles above Newport. Lovecraft visited Bristol in 1933 during a long visit by Morton…
we walked south to Bristol, another quaint 18th century seaport.
When Moe’s son visited with his car in 1935, Lovecraft showed him…
the quaint little seaports down both sides of Narragansett Bay – Warren & Bristol on the east shore
Lovecraft also appears to have passed through as a venturesome eleven year-old in late 1900, since that was when the new electric trains first went to Warren and Bristol and Fall River. It appears to have been winter, judging by the “delightfully witty poem” (Joshi) that Lovecraft wrote based on the journey…
One winter’s morn, when all man kind did shiver, / I took a train, directed toward Fall-River.
The new-fangled “monstrous car” (i.e. train carriage) appears to run on electrickery rather than steam, and quickly turns into a train disaster as it ceases to run. Thus Lovecraft alights and cadges a ride in the frozen twilight, from a…
willing yokel with an ox-drawn cart
…and thus he presumably reaches and passes through Bristol. He spends the night in Fall-River, and returns the next day by the safer and more reliable route of a boat journey back to Providence. The poem is “H. Lovecraft’s Attempted Journey” (1901). It seems he did actually take the trip, and the imaginative poem was likely his comic evocation on the delays and problems encountered on the first run of the new service.
Bristol obliquely appears in his story “High House” as Bristol Highlands, this being a bright new coastal resort development where the professor later takes a placid summer-house. Presumably located on the heights above Bristol.
Overall, I get the vague impression that Bristol was too “quaint” and placid for Lovecraft’s tastes, and perhaps had been overly gentrified and made twee and touristy.