Closed Sea

From the Manasquan to the Mullica
A History of Barnegat Bay

By Kent Mountford

It is a masterful guide, before its time in
many ways.”

— Kirk Moore, Asbury Park Press

6" x 9"
207 pp., 26 illustrations
ISBN 0-945582-84-6
From Chapter One:

They Led the Way

It was, perhaps, a morning in August, the year, AD 1011. The shoals off Barnegat were calm at slack tide, brushed only by the catspaws of an indefinite morning breeze. Eastward, resting on the sea, was the long dragon-ship of Thorfinn Karlsefni. Her ornate sail panting slowly in the calm heat, she lay waiting for a south wind to bear her up the coast.

Hauk Book, from the many volumes of Norse sagas, tells us that Karlsefni, having spent the previous winter in the sheltered Hudson River — which on discovering he called Straumfiord — set out with the coming of April and worked southward with two or three of his ships. Here his party entered Chesapeake Bay, naming part of it H’op and remaining a time in that land. Towards August, Thorfinn coasted northward, born close inshore by the prevailing southerlies.

It was against the true Viking code to ignore any sizeable break in a coastline, so it is probable that Karlsefni entered our coast at least in the Delaware. It would also be convenient to hypothesize his landing at either Egg Harbor or Barnegat, but since this would be merely hypothesis, let it suffice that he was probably the first white European to see New Jersey.

From Chapter Eleven:

Rails and Resorts

So it went, product of many motives: religious, medical, economic, and the beaches changed. Where solemn, round dunes once shouldered alone against the sea, a hundred thousand lights run a gamut of honky-tonk from one end to the other. Alas, for the social critic, there remain only a few islands of the primeval and all too many of the old ways are lost.

We shall omit the morbid tale of the sprawl which followed World War II. A fungus of housing developments has virtually encrusted the sea-beaches. They serve, no doubt, the wishes of a mass population flux to the shore, bringing accommodations there within reach of those who would otherwise be unable to afford them. Yet, on the Island Beach peninsula, hundreds of tiny cubes march in ordered monotony across miles of broiling naked gravel. There was so little of the beautiful coastline to begin with, why could it not have been utilized with intelligence and imagination?
Even the silent marshes are being pumped over with shaky footings of sand and mud for development…

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