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

— Kirk Moore, Asbury Park Press

Closed Sea

From the Manasquan to the Mullica
A History of Barnegat Bay

By Kent Mountford

6 x 9"
207 pp., 26 illustrations

ISBN 0-945582-84-6


Extending roughly from the Manasquan to the Mullica rivers is a region of bay, creeks, barrier island, and coastal forest. Girdled on the east by treacherous inlets and shifting shoals, hemmed in on the west by the vast and mysterious Pine Barrens, steeped in myth and history, this place has been claimed by many: pirates and whalers, iron masters and fishermen, patriots and vacationers. This is Barnegat Bay.

Closed Sea is the saga of New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay region. It is a legendary coast that has drawn many admirers — lured by its beauty and promise, undaunted by the inherent dangers of living at the edge of an unforgiving sea, yet unable to shake the attraction that its glorious shores hold.


Pirates and whalers, Revolutionary patriots and loyalists, fishermen, iron masters and vacationers — all are part of the colorful history of New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay region. Filled with historical anecdote and keen observations of sea and shore, Closed Sea is a compelling portrait of this unique environment and its history.

You will learn of the Lenni Lenape, follow the earliest explorers as they first set eyes on the pristine bay, the Dutch and British settlers who came after them and the intrigues and battles of the "Colonial Rebellion." You will meet the whalers who migrated from New England to New Jersey’s coastal waters, and the many others who harvested the sea’s bounty. You will go with the men of the U.S. Life Saving Service into the icy, treacherous surf of a winter storm. Tales of shipwrecks and of pirate treasure buried on barrier beaches alternate with tales of the Pine Barrens, a place you will visit when it was a thriving center of 18th century industry. And, finally, you will join early summer vacationers for rollicking times in the first guest houses of the Jersey Shore.

With a naturalist’s eye and a sailor’s experience, Kent Mountford describes the Shore’s past, its shifting inlets, disappearing islands, dangerous tides and shoals. Moving inland, he documents the Pinelands environment and the industries it has supported over the centuries. As the coast and the forest have shaped the lives of their inhabitants, so people have influenced the land and the waters.

Closed Sea tells the remarkable history of a fascinating place, a place of great beauty, danger and opportunity, a place that has cast its spell on generations of people — those who came to make a living and those who came to play. Both have brought enormous changes to a sensitive ecosystem — a coastal environment that today is under more pressure than ever.

Begun in 1956, Closed Sea was well ahead of its time. In was environmental history before that discipline had a name or a following. Published now for the first time, the book has tremendous relevance for today’s residents and visitors to the Jersey Shore.

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