Friends of Farm Pond, Oak Bluffs, MA

Time Line

Most Recent First - Most Recent Last

Community and Geological History

2006 Storm closing Sea View Avenue
Occasionally a storm with close Sea View Avenue. Sea water will breach the sea wall and flow across the road into Farm Pond.
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1992 December 18th
Storm Leaves the Beach Road Impassable. Article in the Vineyard Gazette by Amy Callahan
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1992 December 18th
Photographs from newspapers of the December northeaster flooding Sea View Ave into Farm Pond
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Storm Fury Spreads Scene of Damage Across Island. Article in the Vineyard Gazette by Rachell Orr.
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In 1990 the Culvert was large enough for people to take their boats through the culvert, when the tide permitted.
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Harthaven donates 27 acres of land surrounding Farm Pond to Land Bank for conservation. This is now known as the Farm Pond Preserve

1988 July
Closed to shellfishing by Division of Marine Fisheries

Mindy creates Vanessa - sea serpents - to protest slow action by town government in opening culverts to farm Pond.
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1987 January
Photographs taken of crab creek and the (then) barrier beach after a storm in January 1987.
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Scan of aerial photo from 1986.
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Farm Pond is closed to shellfishing by Oak Bluffs Board of Health.

Decline of recreational eel fishery.

1984 March
Storm constricted flow into Harts Harbor.

Photos of closing the old culvert and aerial photos of farm pond.
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"Harthaven Inlet Study: Evaluation and Recommendations" by Joseph Forns
* discussed shoaling problems at inlet due to coastal processes, plus recommendations for dredging, modifying jetties, dune restoration and increasing the size of the culvert.

“A new opening to the sea was proposed in the 1980s in place of the ever-narrowing channel to Harts Harbor. However, the permitting for the new culvert turned out to be something of a nightmare. A fierce paper battle was fought over 100 square feet of salt marsh that was ultimately displaced in favor of culvert construction. The struggle was ironic because the poor circulation in the pond was clearly unhealthy for the salt marsh. Since the culvert was constructed, about fifteen years ago, the salt marsh habitat has improved greatly.” (MV Times)

Amidst large controversy, the town and a corps of engineers decide to block off inlet culvert and install new, smaller culvert between Farm Pond and the ocean. The recommendation for the culvert size by the engineers was a 71 x 41 elliptical pipe, however what was installed was a round culvert of smaller dimensions.

1980's early
founding of "Farm Pond Yacht Club" (defunct) by Guy R. Clements (deceased)
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1980 (aprox)
Large northeaster storm fills up north end of inlet with sand and reduces water from inlet to Farm Pond to a trickle. (from conversation with Edward Abbe, 8/1/7)

1979, July 24-25
Report by Richard Packer, Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Quality Engineering
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1977 June -July
Fecal coliform data (sampling by town of OB)
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1976 aprox
Healthy oyster population and quahogs cultivated in rafts according to Ed Bugbee, OB shellfish warden

MV Commission fecal coliform data
* range = 0 - 49 per 100 ml vs. shellfish standards for fecal coliforms < 14 per 100 ml). (Comment by FWB: even as early as the 1970's the pond was experiencing periods with high coliform counts, above the limits for shellfish.)

Aerial photo of Farm Pond and shore line from 1972.
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There was a good blue claw crab fishery, and a respectable harvest of soft-shelled clams and oysters as well. (MV Times)

There is an active herring fishery in Farm Pond. (MV Times)

1940s to early 1960s
Active alewife fishery via Harthaven channel into Farm Pond

Scan of aerial photo from 1938 showing Oak Bluffs Harbor and Farm Pond.
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Hurricane closes old Hart Haven harbor entrance. Current harbor entrance is opened up.

During 40 year period, 1938 to 1980, beach erodes, and barrier dunes disappear. The large pond between Seaview Ave and the ocean, just north of Youngs, disappears. (from conversation with Edward Abbe, 8/1/7)

Wooden bridge built across Sea View Avenue. Inlet runs through underneath with a 6' wide culvert. The culvert was big enough to canoe through. Farm Pond circulation at this point is under Seaview to old Harthaven Harbor, and then to sea. Fish trough for herring run build just north of current harbor entrance. (from conversation with Edward Abbe, 8/1/7)

Harthaven Harbor north jetties created and Harthaven Harbor opened – boats use navigable channel connected to Farm Pond. Farm Pond flushed through north jetties. Crabs, shellfish in abundance.

Original harbor entrance at location of abandoned jetties (entrance to Farm Pond from sea was via bridge just north of this harbor). Large schooner was moored just south of Young's house. Young's house had its own dock. (from conversation with Edward Abbe, 8/1/7)

Early 1900s “East Chop was armored in order to prevent erosion there. The armament was effective at keeping the bluff intact, but it also cut off the sand supply from the north. So the longshore transport, moving sand in a north-to-south direction, began tearing sand away from the beach. Unlike Sylvia State Beach, there is no compensating sand supply from the south.” (MV Times)

“… as shown on a chart from 1894, the seaward arm of the pond, roughly equal in size to the main body of the pond, was a separate body, with a road crossing over. The road construction appears to have involved some fill, and it is unknown how much thought was given to maintaining circulation between the arms. Beyond the water lay a comfortable width of beach, enough to support a railroad line that ran between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. There was no opening to the sea, and the water must have been fresh or slightly brackish. East Chop had not yet been armored by boulders, and there was a steady supply of sand brought with the longshore transport from the north.” (M V Times)

Ice is cut in Farm Pond by Charles Hamblin.

1846 - 1988
Historical data on accretion vs. erosion of beach adjacent to Farm Pond and Harthaven.
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Aerial photo of Farm Pond from 2005 (photo from MassGIS) with various shorelines overlaid. Shorelines are from Mass. Coastal Zone Management Agency. Shoreline Year – Red is 1846, Orange is 1897, Yellow is 1955, Green is 1978.
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The land that is now the west part of Farm Pond Preserve was farmed from 1814-1938 aprox.

Des Barres' 1776 chart shows absence of Seaview Avenue and seawall. Farm Pond appears as several distinct arms. (MV Times)

Simeon Butler operated a tannery on the shores of Farm Pond from 1733-1750. The tan barn was located immediately south of Farm Pond. He left it to his son Thomas, and the property was used as a tannery until 1825.

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