In the mid 1800's Nantucket was the largest whaling port in the world. The novel Moby Dick was based on a story of the whaling ship Essex which sailed from Nantucket. It encountered a rogue whale who sunk the ship. Herman Melville wrote his novel in a hotel across the street from the captain, who with 3 crew members were the only survivors. Hunted for it's blubber and whale oil, the whaling trade made its captains very rich. Main street on Nantucket became the street where many whaling captains built elaborate mansions. Main street is paved with the cobblestones used as ballast from many whaling ships. The island's historic commission has maintained much of the town to resemble what the island looked like back at the height of the whaling industry.