, Newburyport, MA


March 1, 2013

The ebb and flow of Plum Island

Friend Gene Smith called to tell me on Wednesday that northeast winds were beating the bejabbers out of Plum Island once again; and after we hung up, I was reminded of that old truism that the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

Seems so in the lifetimes of those who have spent much of their lives at Plum Island, but ...

The ocean has been beating up on it since it was formed following the retreat of an Ice Age that began some 12,000 years ago. It’s not just an island. It’s a barrier island, and that makes for problems for those on and behind them at risk.

That took some making over centuries, because if what I have been led to understand is accurate, what passed for the coastline then was more than 20 miles seaward at Stellwagen Bank.

It’s fair to say that northeasters beat up on whatever the shorelines were up and down the East Coast before the barrier beaches of Salisbury and Plum Island we know today were formed.

Be that as it may, we tend to respond to what we live with and I have been doing that here for just short of a century.

One of the things I was able to do by way of my time with The Daily News was to call our then Congressman William H. Bates shortly before he died in office to ask for help regarding the need for an engineering study concerning the relevance of the Merrimack River’s relationship to Plum Island’s erosion problems.

I had been playing with the idea that if the rock bed in the river at Ben Butler’s Toothpick were removed, perhaps the outward river current would not be diverted toward Plum Island, thereby keeping the river channel between and beyond less prone to buildup.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Reggie Jackson's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Are Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon Breaking Up? Motorcyclist Sticks Landing This 'Breaking Bad' Reunion is the Most Hilarious Thing You'll See All Day! President Obama talks about who James Foley was Nicki Minaj Unleashes Her 'Anaconda' On the World Watch Helicopter Perform Aerial Ballet Can Buckeyes fill Miller's void? Victoria's Secret Models Prove They're in Fighting Shape How Brian Hoyer Stacks Up With Johnny Manziel Taylor Swift Reveals New Album 1989 is Full-On Pop Crews rescue elderly woman trapped inside flooded minivan Man Poses for New Mugshot Photo Wearing Shirt with Old Mugshot Photo On It Disquieting times for Malaysia's 'fish listeners' Caught On Camera: Johnny Manziel Obscene Gesture Rita Ora Embraces the Ice Bucket Challenge Bird surprises soccer player Ashley Young during game Chapter Two: Never too late to become an artist Ice Bucket Challenge Goes Viral, Raises Over $15M For ALS
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans