Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/759

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BARRIER BEACHES OF THE ATLANTIC COAST.

the basis of present knowledge and observation. We have little accurate information, but, after all," we have much, that is interesting.

The beach of Sandy Hook forms the northern extremity of the New Jersey sea-coast. Previous to 1778 it was connected with the base of the Navesink Highlands by a sandy isthmus, the mouths of the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers being open to the east; but from that date until about 1830, and from 1818 until 1889, it has been united with the mainland at Monmouth Beach by a narrow strip of sand.

According to records in the office of the Surveyor-General of East Jersey and in that of the United States Coast Survey, the point of Sandy Hook advanced northward about one mile between 1685 and 1885. The lighthouse was built about 1764 near the water's edge, and the ground on which it stands had then existed for only fifteen years as a portion of terra firma.

In 1844 the point was about two hundred and fifty yards north of its present limit. Since that date it has receded slowly toward the south, and toward the west has extended a quarter of a mile. We have no evidence concerning the date of formation of the old "Hook" which existed before 1685. It is now well marked by immense forest trees, which exceed in height and size of trunk any of their species known to the writer in the neighborhood of New York.

The rapid growth of Sandy Hook is due to a current which flows northward from the vicinity of Manasquan, carrying with it a great quantity of sand removed from the water front of Asbury Park, Long Branch, Seabright, and that vicinity, which is dropped along the border of the "Hook" and its extremity. The investigations of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey have shown that the ebb and flow of the tides from and to New York Bay produce this current by drawing a stream of water through False Hook Channel, which lies between Sandy Hook and a submerged bar called False Hook half a mile to the east. The stream flows northward more than seven hours out of twelve, and from this fact property-owners in the neighborhood of Long Branch may appreciate what becomes of their real estate when it disappears during the storms. If there were any means of identifying the soil, it might all be found on the rapidly growing point of Sandy Hook.

About 1778 a channel was opened across the narrow isthmus which united Sandy Hook with the base of the Navesink Highlands, and a new passage being thus afforded for the tidal currents of the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers, the old Shrewsbury Inlet, which formed the common mouth of those two estuaries, was gradually closed by the northward extension of the sand-spit