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liarly exposed, some of the vats were lifted from the stakes on which they were built, and twisted or broken. It may afford a useful hint to remark, that a lot of salt works, in a very bleak and exposed situation, had been previously wattled with bushes, between the stakes which supported it, which so effectually defended it, that.
- no damage was suffered; while a large, shallow reservoir, about eight inches deep, standing in front of another lot of salt works, was lifted, in a body, and cast over upon them in a very shattered condition; but its peculiar form and exposure rendered it a fit subject for this kind of violence. And, generally, this species of property, though from its constitution specially liable to injury from high winds, yet endured so little on this occasion, from the wind alone, that the loss sustained from this cause has been scarcely reckoned worthy of account. When this is compared with the prostration of forests and edifices, and the great destruction of property by the wind, in counties north and west of this, we must conclude, that the gale in this region was comparatively light.
It was still more moderate in the lower parts of the county; decreasing gradually, till at Provincetown it was called a hard blow, but by no means a hurricane.
2. In regard to the extraordinary tide and its effects.
The interiour part of Buzzard's Bay communicates with several small bays or inlets, in most cases by narrow passages. In these small bays, and near the head of tidewater in Monimet or Back River, the water rose, during the gale, at least eight feet higher than is usual in the highest course of tides. In the open bay it was much higher. Seven miles below the places where the above observation was made, it is judged that the tide was ten feet or more above the common level of spring, tides. It appears to have been higher still lower in the bay.
The land is in many places low and level, and continues so at some distance from the shore, when it rises suddenly into hills. All the low ground was overflowed of course. The water from Buzzard's Bay approached
so near to the source of a brook, which falls into Barnstable Bay, that observers have generally judged, that if it had risen fourteen or fifteen inches more, perpendicularly, it must have passed across the Cape, following the course in which a canal has often been projected, about two miles west of the village of Sandwich.
The tide in Buzzard's Bay is three hours earlier than in Barnstable Bay, which would bring high water in the former, on the 23d of September, 1815, at about 11 o'clock and 40 minutes, when the gale was at the greatest height. On this occasion, therefore, both wind and sea operated together, and much damage was done.
Coasting vessels are almost the only kind of shipping in this bay. Several of them were at that time moored near the shore at the landing places, where great quantities of cord wood had been collected, to be shipped on board them for market. Being a light kind of craft, they were scattered about in various directions, and most of them driven high upon the shore.
Dwelling houses are but thinly scattered over that region ; but where they stood near the sea the inhabitants were obliged to abandon them and flee to high places for shelter. These houses being generally erected on ground a little elevated, none were destroyed; one only was filled with water as high as the chamber floor. No lives were lost.
Salt works, though they resisted the winıl, suffered extremely from the tide. The business of salt making has been carried on to a great extent on the eastern shore of Buzzard's Bay. But all the works within the reach of this tide, were carried away. The shore was literally swept with the besom of destruction. On the island of Mashena, a large amount of this kind of property was lost. The water washed away the salt works, apparently without an effort. A salt house connected with them, being partly filled with salt, maintained its position till the tide had risen nearly to the roof, when it was overset, and floated across the bay. The ruins of these works were found in the woods at Wareham. In one instance, a large lot of salt works was floated, in a
body, the distance of several miles, without being broken. Had it been caught and brought to an anchor, it would probably have been saved, but with slight damage. It was, however, driven upon a craggy shore, where the tide left it, and it fell to pieces over the rocks; but the salt house, which sailed in company the whole distance, chanced to find a better resting place. It was lodged directly across a road, where it settled upon corner stones so well adapted, that its perfect shape was maintained. It was afterwards launched like a vessel, and conveyed back to its original position, without being essentially injured by the excursion. The place where it grounded is about nine feet above the level of the common high tides.
After the flood was passed, it was striking to observe how small vessels, and these light fabricks, had been made the sport of winds and waves. Some of the coasting vessels were floated completely into the forest. One of these was lodged among trees so large, that they sustained it in an upright position, till it was relaunched, with very little damage. Another was lifted over a bluff and laid in front of a dwelling house--as one might say, across the door-stone. The vessel proved a defence to the house, which might otherwise have suffered greatly. The wrecks of salt works appeared in some places to have been heaped together in fantastick mood, presenting strange appearances of ruins ; of buildings partly finished, and left in that condition, and of the others, the design of which, in such spots, could not be conjectured.
The injury done in Buzzard's Bay was much greater than that in the Vineyard Sound. The waters in the latter place were not heaped up, as in the former. But the tide in Falmouth harbour was so high as to create much confusion, and do much damage among the shipping there. A brig was driven ashore at Hyannis ; but below that place the wind was more moderate, and the waters had sufficient sea room ; ,so that little or no damage was done.
In regard to the immediate effect of the tide upon the soil and its productions. Grass was entirely killed. There was not a green blade to be seen, in any place,
over which the flood had passed. In a few spots, near running springs, some new shoots appeared in the course of the autumn: but on uplands, none grew till another season; and then it was not the same kind of grass
which grew there before, excepting in a very few instances. Several cedar swamps were filled with sea water, which, having no outlet, soaked into the ground. The trees in these swamps perished forthwith; the leaves withering and falling off in a very short time. In trees cut from these swamps during the winter following the storm, the sapwood had turned nearly black; and there is scarcely an instance in which a cedar tree survived the effect of this flood. Pine and oak trees suffered a similar fate, excepting a very few, which stood near the shore. They had perhaps grown accustomed to the influence of salt water, and could better endure it; but a very great proportion of them died. Most of the shrubs and bushes, over which the tide passed, perished also. It has been observed, that one or two species of laurel, and the common bayberry were but little if at all injured, and some of the swamp whortleberries survived. Apple trees were, generally, on such high ground, that the tide did not reach them. A few only were surrounded by the water, and none of them were so situated that the water could remain about them for any length of time. They were, however, as much exposed as many of the cedars which died; but the apple trees survived, and yet live, though evidently stinted as to their growth. With these exceptions, the destruction of vegetable life was very general, if not universal.
A great part of the cultivated lands, in that vicinity, are in low places near the shore; they were overflowed of course. In fields where Indian corn was standing, the roots were, in most cases, torn out of the ground; and where this did not take place, the stalks were wrenched and twisted, and the spikes broken off. The soil was so washed in these fields, that they exhibited the appearance of a sea shore, rather than of cultivated land. Indian corn, where it had previously grown hard or ripe, was fit for food; for some time the people washed it be
It was a
fore grinding; but they soon discovered that the washing was unnecessary, as the grain had no taste of sea water, or so little as to be disregarded. But where this grain had not already grown hard, it would not, though left standing in the field; it either perished in the husk, or very soon after it was taken out. common remark, that no part of the plant could be dried by any means, and by far the greater part of the harvest was lost, not being yet ripe. Potatoes and other roots, if left long in the ground, perished; but where they had ripened, and were taken up within a few days after the flood, and well dried, they were good, and were kept and used as usual during the season. It is the practice of our farmers to sow winter rye
in August. This plant had, of course, advanced considerably in growth at the time of the storm. Where the salt water passed over it, it was entirely killed; unless we except one or two spots in very low and wet ground; but in these, the rye was so much injured, as nearly amounted to total destruction. Some fields were immediately resown; in these, the rye sprung up, endured the winter, and produced a good crop. But the fences having been principally of cedar, were almost all swept off, and the fields laid common; and few people felt encouraged to commence the labour of the season anew, with the additional expense and trouble of procuring and setting up new fences.
Fresh water was, for a long time, a rarity of price. The wells were generally overflown and left full of sea water. Watering places for cattle suffered a similar fate; and so extensive was the influence of the flood, that several wells and watering places into which the tide water did not run, were yet made salt. The water in them acquired the taste and quality of sea water, and was totally unfit for domestick purposes. The inhabitants were obliged to transport this necessary article, for family use, from a great distance; and travellers who needed it were glad to receive it in a measure of the smallest capacity. In some wells near the shore, the water used to rise and fall with the tide, still remaining fresh; but the severe