Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ox Meadow Research

I pass by the new spot that I haven't yet explored thinking that it will be a longer and more predictable trip if I I wait for a high tide.  I return to the same place as yesterday. This time, I head up the Neck River, which connects with the East at the sea.

Posts at the big bend
This is a continuation of recording the exposed cultural remains at low tide.  I'll ignore the outside bank as it is currently used by nearby home owners.  The inner bank has no tenants.  At the first bend I find several wooden posts...inside of the bend just like I found in the East River.  But, I also find the first sign of the corduroy road.  And, as I continue up the Neck I come across the corduroy every hundred yards or so...saplings, branches and limbs sticking out of the bank horizontally and laid parallel to each other.  They protrude from the bank about 2 ft down below the top of the marsh.  The ends are cut at an angle - axe cuts, the thicker pieces have been split to crude planks.  This continues until I reach the broken tidal dam just inside Bailey Creek.  The last corduroy is lined up such that the path crossed this dam and then turned down river.  A few of the logs in this corduroy are saw cut, but most are by axe.

Corduroy farm trail
I don't know how fast a salt marsh builds up, but I guess that a 1/4 inch a year might be not too far off.  That dates the corduroy to a 100 years before present.  All things are connected however, and this bodes not well for the marsh.  Sea level rise due to climate change will easily outpace my 1/4 inch per year guess.  These marshes will disappear, its only a matter of time.
Very obvious corduroy farm trail

I head up Bailey Creek finding no more cultural stuff.  I chase off a few hooded mergansers at a couple of the bends and then I spy a half dozen black ducks up the long cut that leads toward the railroad.  I drift back for a photo and find only three.  Then, ten rise up from a hidden spot, then 20 more, and then 20 more.  There is more water up that cut than I suspected.
More obvious corduroy farm trail

On the way out I turn and head farther up the Neck.  After I do a couple of full circle meanders it occurs to me that I've not been here in a good while.  A guy and his dog come down to the water and I get my photo taken.  We start to talk.  It is one of those delightful Connecticut start talking with someone that you've just met and 45 minutes goes by.  R fills me in on some details.  The big marsh was once called (and still is by some people) Ox Meadow.  It was part of a large farm and the broken tidal dam was probably the bridge leading out to the salt hay (spartina).  This all dovetails in nicely with the corduroy trail...the only reason to build that would've been to keep wagons and farm machinery from getting mired.  Oxen pulled equipment makes sense with the guessed age of the path as well.  He also tells me of some foundation ruins that belonged to the last farmer.  He had an airplane and story has it that the foundation was for his hanger. 

On my last stretch of the Neck, I stop and talk with a guy getting ready to go out sailing.  And, I hear the hanger story again.

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