Letter: So much of Westport’s shore has washed to sea

To the editor:

I have no opinion on the matter of Gooseberry causeway. I do know some history about the area.

As teenagers, my father and Lee Stevens worked during school vacations for cousin Everett Dunham (Dunham’s Hill and Brook). In early spring, Dad and Lee went with a horse and wagon across the Gooseberry Bar to get loads of seaweed which was used on the fields. They could cross at half ebb tide and return at half flood tide.  High tide would be too high up on the horse.  Dad said that he got the horse headed and then let him go and that animal would feel his way across.

In 1922, the causeway was built from Horseneck to Gooseberry Island by the Massachusetts Department of Public Works.  Storms always messed up the roadway surface and in 1943 the federal government rebuilt the roadway with more rip-rap on the sides.  That work was done to support the submarine observation facility.  A heavy copper cable ran from Gooseberry to Cuttyhunk and could detect anything going into Buzzards Bay.

East Beach once had mansions and great lawns where today there is barely room for A trailer. I believe that some areas have lost over 150 feet of upland.

Part of West Beach has lost even more.  Before 1938 there were five cottages at the west end.  My uncle had one next door to the Howe cottage where President Roosevelt visited.  Those cottages were set back about 100 feet into the dune area.  The highest dune on Horseneck was west of the cottages, right on the point at Boat Beach.  Visibility was measured in miles from the top. A few years ago a friend asked me to go to that area and see pipes in the surf.  They were well points used by the cottages for water and near them was a fireplace base. I believe that about 300 feet of dune line has gone to Lion’s Tongue Sand Bar.

Before 1938, the breakwater was about three feet above high water. After 1938, it became hardly visible.  The Army Engineers over the years have suggested that the breakwater be restored and lengthened.

In 1887, a jetty was built from dune line to low water mark at what was called Horseneck Point.  In 1891 the jetty was extended to 145 feet. In 1924 the jetty was extended to a length of 315 feet.

I have a lot more info about dredging but that’s for another time.

Cukie Macomber

Westport

 

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