Article Published In Wicked Northshore
by Jeni Lu
Plum Island is a spectacular place to live the beach life. It’s a destination for serene beaches, wildlife (seals and snow owls, anyone?), swimming areas and trails. And it’s only minutes from downtown Newburyport restaurant and shops.
This weekend I visited Plum Island for a walking tour with island expert Bill Sargent. As the author of two books on the topic, Bill knows a thing or two about the island and its history.
Bill showed us fossilized artifacts found on the island, including a mastodon tooth. How is it possible to find a tooth for an elephantine mammal that went extinct 10,000 years ago when the island is only 4,000 years old?
Bill explains the history in his book, “Plum Island: 4000 years on a Barrier Beach.” All I’ll say is that Mother Nature is a powerful force. Storms, wind, waves, and rain constantly chisel and shape the sand dunes on Plum Island.
Preserving the dunes
Erosion problems are nothing new to Plum Island. Piles of sand (“berms”) have been manually put on the island to reduce dune corrosion. Dune grass can be implemented and covered with up to 4 ft of sand to help stabilize the dune.
Stone jetties at the mouth of the Merrimack River protect the coastal dunes on Plum Island, prevent beach erosion, help maintain navigability in the river and ensure public safety.
Kids discover the island
During our walk, I happened to meet Jenn Bogard, the author of a children’s book, “The ABCs of Plum Island Massachusetts.”
Jenn’s family has a long history on the island. She combines her background in teaching with her love for the island in a way that’s easy for kids to enjoy. Ordering my copy shortly.
Speaking of kids, here is me with mine during this chilly February morning walk:
She had fun on the beach playground and finding shells.
If you haven’t been to Plum Island, it’s time to get on it. Have breakfast at Mad Martha’s Cafe, visit The Plum Island Soap Company to shop for hand-poured bars of soap, and enjoy boating, kayaking or fishing on the beach.
Walking Tour Info
For information on future walking tours, visit Plum Island Outdoors.
The 60-minute walking tours start at Newburyport Plum Island Beach to the south jetty and back, rain or shine. The price is $10.