Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/452

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liam Nicol, Esq., remains of a forest, portions of which are still flourishing on the adjacent uplands. These, Mr. Nicol writes, "are of oak, and are from twelve to twenty-four inches in diameter." Similar ones, he is informed, occur on the north side of the beach close to the ocean, which are covered by three feet of water at low tide. Eastward from this point the bay is broad and shallow for upward of twenty miles. The depth of water in it is from three to eight feet, with from two to three feet more in some parts of the channel. A tradition of the early settlers, which appears to have been received from the aborigines, is, that the whole area was once a fresh-water swamp, portions of which were so nearly dry at certain seasons of the year, that the Indians passed over it dry-footed to the beach.

A hundred and fifty years ago the bottom of this bay was covered in many places with remains of swamp vegetation, and stumps of trees, to the "great annoyance and astonishment of fishermen."

It is probable that this section of the bay was at one time a swamp or series of swamps like many now found on the contiguous uplands, and sufficiently above the level of the sea to admit of their free drainage into it, for it is certain that they were supplied by the same copious streams from the island which now empty into the bay.

The character of these swamps changed when the tides overflowed them. That the bay is comparatively modern is suggested by the fact that no great mounds of shells[1] occur near it, such as were left by the aborigines along other parts of the coast. Yet it is certain that the country was thickly settled by Indians. Mr. Nicol writes, "There are fields known as old Indian fields which abound in shells, but they nowhere take the form of mounds."

A few miles eastward is the beautiful but shallow sheet of water known as Tiana Bay. It fills a depression in the almost level sands along this part of the coast, and is upon the site of a pine-forest. W. S. Pelletreau, Esq., of Southampton, informed us that he saw in it about three hundred stumps covered at low tide. They are of the same species of pine which now grows on the adjacent uplands.[2]

In Peconic Bay, which divides the eastern part of Long Island into two very long necks of land, the submergence' of the shores has been extensive. Mr. E. F. Squires, of Riverhead, noticed not only areas of swamp, but of former cedar-forests, now permanently overflowed by the tides. One point is known as "Stump Landing."

On the north shore of the island are several tracts of "sunken meadow," over which the water at low tide is from ten to fifteen feet

  1. Westward of this portion of the shore of the "Great South Bay" are many "Indian shell-heaps," all of them now surrounded by meadows. Some of them, six or more feet deep, near the margin of the ocean, are covered by every tide. These are probably very old, and were formed originally at the uplands.
  2. The pitch-pine (Pinus rigida). This tree almost rivals the maritime pine of Europe in flourishing at the verge of salt-water. Emerson states that it is not killed by occasional overflow of the tides.