Closed Sea: From the Manasquan to the Mullica: A History of Barnegat Bay


A history of the Barnegat Bay region, Closed Sea weaves a colorful tale of whalers and pirates, Revolutionary patriots and loyalists, fishermen, sportsmen, iron masters and life saving crews. Filled with historical anecdote and keen observations of sea and shore, it is a compelling portrait of a unique place and its history.

You will follow the earliest explorers as they first set eyes upon the pristine bay, the Dutch and British settlers who ...

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A history of the Barnegat Bay region, Closed Sea weaves a colorful tale of whalers and pirates, Revolutionary patriots and loyalists, fishermen, sportsmen, iron masters and life saving crews. Filled with historical anecdote and keen observations of sea and shore, it is a compelling portrait of a unique place and its history.

You will follow the earliest explorers as they first set eyes upon the pristine bay, the Dutch and British settlers who came after them and the intrigue and battles of the "Colonial Rebellion". You will meet whalers who migrated from New England to New Jersey's coastal waters, and many others who harvested the sea's various bounty. You will go with the men of the Life Saving Service into the icy, treacherous surf of a winter storm. Accounts 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 the early summer vacationers for rollicking times in the first guest houses of Long Beach Island.

With a naturalist's eye and a sailor's experience, environmental historian Kent Mountford describes the history of New Jersey's Barnegat Bay region and its people, from the Lenni Lenape to 20th century summer vacationers. He opens our eyes to 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.

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.

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.

Includes selected bibliography, index, and map.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirk Moore
It is a masterful guide, before its time in many ways.
Asbury Park Press
New Jersey Monthly
Ecologist and environmental historian Kent Mountford, chronicles the history of this important body of water from the days of the Leni-Lenape and the earliest European explorers.
The Beachcomber
Kent Mountford, estuarine ecologist and environmental historian, has had a fascination with Barnegat Bay since his college days; an affair of the heart, which blossomed into a book belonging in the library of anyone who has ever dipped a foot into this salt water. Closed Sea... is a kind of historical, social, ecological and certainly in-depth Baedeker of the vast bay... and the shores it touches.
The SandPaper
Kent Mountford grabs you with his first sentence.... Closed Sea is a carefully put together account of the bay, its history, ecology, industries and people.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593220273
  • Publisher: Down The Shore Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/1/2006
  • Pages: 207
  • Sales rank: 990,807
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kent Mountford, PhD, is an estuarine ecologist with with decades of experience focused on North America's mid-Atlantic temperate estuaries. A writer, lecturer, and sailor, Dr. Mountford has been employed as a scientist for the District of Columbia and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

A working scientist, in 1980, he looked at the then-polluted Potomac, and began investigating the region's early colonial literature as a key to understanding today's problems. He helped set foundations for using ecosystem models to manage the Chesapeake; these models were among the first to simulate the bay's pre-colonial state and forecast the importance of nitrogen pollution. Dr. Mountford served on the Chesapeake Bay Program's management committee and was influential in the District's becoming a partner in the emerging multi-state effort to restore the Chesapeake and her rivers.

When the Chesapeake Bay Program concluded its six-year research phase in 1983-84, Mountford joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new Bay Program Office to coordinate its estuary-wide monitoring program — now broadly accepted as the most comprehensive and enduring such program in America.

Mountford spent the balance of his 16 years at EPA as Bay Program Senior Environmental Scientist. He headed early efforts to develop "Environmental Indicators," a program now nationally recognized — and for this work received EPA's Regional Bronze Medal.

Dr. Mountford's public information role found him frequently quoted in the media, appearing on TV news spots or radio talk shows. He is an engaging naturalist-lecturer with a sense of humor and a particular sensitivity for historical context.

Dr. Mountford was raised a native New Jerseyan, spending each youthful summer at the Shore and the early core of his professional life on Barnegat Bay. He received his Masters in 1969 and his PhD in 1971, both from Rutgers, New Brunswick, where he received his undergraduate degree in 1960. He has been a sailor for fifty years and a licensed U.S. Coast Guard captain since 1987. His half century of logbooks, filled with experiences and sketches, cover some 35,000 miles sailing his in own boats and those of others across waters domestic and foreign. With his wife of 31 years, Nancy, he lives on one of the Chesapeake's most beautiful tributaries and, from an office overlooking his boat moored in her cove continues to write, lecture about, and study coastal history and ecology.

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Read an Excerpt

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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Table of Contents

Barnegat Bay Area map
Chapter One - They Led the Way
Chapter Two - Of Burning Hole • 17
Chapter Three - Harbors: Something Old, Something New
Chapter Four - Cranberry and the Captains
Chapter Five - The Land of the Lenape
Chapter Six - The Fate of Scheyechbi
Chapter Seven - A Thorn for the Crown
Chapter Eight - The Iron Masters
Chapter Nine - From the Land
Chapter Ten - From the Sea
Chapter Eleven - Rails and Resorts
Chapter Twelve - Ships and Sailing
Chapter Thirteen - Wrecks, Lights, and Pirates

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