Last week’s nor’easter did minor damage to Duxbury Beach, but some of it was notable.
Please note that we use “minor” with respect to those who had property damage. We never forget an exasperated Bill Walton’s answer to media negativity regarding him missing games over minor surgery. “Surgery is only minor when someone else is undergoing it.” We just mean it like “houses weren’t getting torn in half.”
One noteworthy bit of damage is almost un-observable, in that you would only notice it if you grew up there.
There were four boulders buried, on purpose, at the boat ramp opening in the seawall at the end of Ocean Road North. I assume that they were put there to either A) mark the location of a trans-Atlantic cable that came ashore here from Brest, France, or B) to keep people from driving up the beach to get a quick Barley Pop at the old Gurnet Inn, or C) as a sort of Maginot Line against a potential attack from Green Harbor.
The boulders were buried perpendicular from the seawall, in a straight line. The first two were almost fully exposed, the third one was half buried, and you only saw the top of the final rock in certain tidal conditions.
You can see it now, however. The nor’easter last week lifted the two outer boulders and rolled them up near the seawall.
It’s an amazing feat. Those boulders laughed off Hurricane Belle, didn’t move (to my knowledge, I was 9) during the Blizzard of ’78, were rock-solid during Hurricane Gloria, stood stone-still during the Halloween Gale and took no notice at all of the Blizzards and Nor’easters of 1993, 1996, 2003, 2005, 2013 or 2015.
It is amazing that this storm moved them. I was standing on the seawall an hour before high tide during the storm that moved these boulders, and it wasn’t that bad. I’d be writing this article from Hell if I had tried standing on the seawall an hour before high tide during the Blizzard of ’78 or the Halloween Gale. I assume that it is some beach erosion thing that I can’t figure out.
The boulders have been there at least since the seawall went up in 1954. There are long odds that they were laid down in the 1800s (when the cable went in, and meaning that the boulders also survived the Saxby Gale, the Portland Gale and the 1938 hurricane), but surviving 1800s pictures of the cable going in don’t show the boulders.
I’m counting on some old-timer to fill me in on exactly when these boulders were put into place.
It’s not quite Charlton Heston discovering a destroyed Statue Of Liberty, but it matters to me, dammit!