Rocks Upon Rocks

A few years ago I wrote a post on the north jetties of Salisbury Beach entitled "Going Over the Bar." I included two postcards of piles of boulders extending out into the Atlantic Ocean. Since then I found a card in my collection of its mate, the south jetty at Plum Island. Both jetties help to hold the navigation channel of the Merrimack River where it is. This card show's people frolicking on the rocks perhaps fishing or watching the surf  on the beach. An adult and child getting their feet wet at the water's edge and a few juveniles are playing around in a rescue boat.

Jetties, Plum Island, Newburyport, Massachusetts, row boat, rescue boat, sand rocks
Click to enlarge
I'm curious as to why there were so many postcards of a pile of rocks. Really the jetties are simple a pile of boulders thrown on top of each other in one straight line extending and curving a bit out to sea. They are about 1/2 mile long.

There wasn't much skill involved in building them. They don't seem to be carefully placed on each other. I imagine the first jetties were built from a barge with a crane that just dropped boulders into the ocean until they appeared above the waterline. To an engineer I suppose that might be an oversimplification.

I have snorkeled close to the south jetty and was amazed just how wide they fan out at the bottom of the sea. There must be thousands of really large boulders used in building them. They were originally constructed in the 1800's to put a halt to the fickle Merrimack River from creating another new river mouth. They have been upgraded with a few new boulders thrown upon the piles periodically throughout the years. The last time was in the 1960's.

There is a call for even more rocks as the beaches are beginning to erode both north and south of the river. Storms have created waves powerful enough to move these stones of great tonnage with ease and there are now gaps in some places.

But again why make a postcard of a pile of rocks? Where people amazed at the looks? The amount of stones? Maybe they were amazed at such a large construction project in what was then a very rural area. And maybe they were amazed at how they could have been created given the primitive machines they had of that era.

Who knows?

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Wish you were down here and had some of the rest I have been having. We will soon have to start our prayer meetings.
Love M.E. West
To: Mrs. Andrew Matson, Montvale Ave. Woburn, Mass. Postmark: Newburyport, Mass September 3, 1935 1:30PM

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