Long Island, NY
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© 2005-2012 John Deitz
|The Carman's River(Ref.
originates in the central part of Long Island and flows generally south
about 10 miles to the Great South Bay. Along the way there are two
county parks, three "lakes" -- actually remnants of old
mill ponds -- and the
Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge. The earlier names for the river were Connectiquot or
Connecticut. The native Americans may have also called it Cumsequogue
most of it's path, it's not much of a "river" -- it's natural
width perhaps 10-15 feet. The lower reach, of interest here, is an
estuary and therefore tidal. When I first moved to the Hamlet,
there were several duck farms on it's west shores, and a great deal of not so
pleasant muck on it's bottom. The farms are now long closed, and
the river has more-or-less returned to it's natural state.more
The core 1800 acres of the Wertheim National Wildlife
ID SH01A) was donated to the Federal Government by
in 1947. Sometime around the 1920s-30's Wertheim had purchased a large
portion of the failed
Tangier land tract on the east bank of Carman's River for his own
private shooting and fishing preserve. The wildlife refuge has grown to
approximately 2550 acres through land purchases and donations.
Immediately upstream to the north is the South Haven County Park,
Suffolk's County's first significant parkland. Originally the home
of the Suffolk Club
(Ref. ID SH13), a gentleman's hunting and fishing club dating to the
early 19th century, the county began acquiring the land in 1962 with an
initial purchase of 600 acres. It has now grown to approximately
Carman's River, looking north
from the foot of Beaverdam Rd. -- Squassux Landing. This is a
favorite spot for crabbing. When the children were young there were always
chicken necks in the freezer available for use. And a favorite
summertime meal was steamed crabs provided by the young-uns.
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the river was used for commerce,
which ended with the advent of railroads and the silting of the inlet (now
called Old Inlet) to the Atlantic Ocean, which was nearly directly
opposite the mouth of the river.
River looking south from the Squassux Landing. The river leads
to the Great South Bay. To the right (not visible) is the Squassux
Landing marina, owned by the Brookhaven Village Association. At
one time (many, many years ago) there was a ferry to Smith's Point Beach
which left from the landing. In the 18th century, whaling boats
landed here, as well as elsewhere upstream along the river. I'm told
that during Prohibition it continued to contributed to the wealth of
Hamlet residents. The river is now well used by canoeists
who sometimes launch at the Landing.
|Just to the right of the view
above is the Squassux Landing marina
(Ref. ID Br16). This marina is not a
commercial enterprise, and is owned and maintained by by the Brookhaven
Village Association for the residents of the Hamlet
||The Squassux Landing property was
given by the Post family to the Village Association and has berths for
about 220 boats. For a while, we maintained a small sailboat here,
and I later used it as a launch point for my Sunfish (before the passion
for motorcycling developed).
|The Long Island Railroad
bridge over the Carman's River. This bridge is located about 2
miles upstream of Squassux Landing within the
National Wildlife Refuge. Some might say that you have left
the Hamlet by this point. But this graceful little concrete arch bridge
is so beautiful I believe it must be in the Hamlet!
The railroad was extended along the south shore between Patchogue and
Eastport through Brookhaven about 1881. Recent research indicates that the original 1881 bridge across
the River was trestle work on pilings.
This bridge has a date of 1911 on its face.
"We hab you now, sar!" -- Apaius Enos,
Daniel Webster's slave, talking to the senator's legendary 25-inch brook
trout as it was pulled from the Carman's River.
Some versions have the slave belonging to Sam Carman; it is one of the
few cases where a slave has both a first and last name.
|This little pool is at the historic
"goin' over" of the Carman's River. The pool
itself is located between the Montauk and Sunrise Highways, upstream of
the railroad bridge. Even I must concede that you are no longer in
Brookhaven Hamlet. The "goin' over" was the location
of the original South Haven community. In pre-Revolutionary War
times, the Old South Haven Church parish was founded here, as well as
the South Haven
Samuel Carman's house -- which also served as a tavern, store and post
office. The mill was probably constructed in the late 17th century. The old church
cemetery is about all that
remains of the original settlement -- the mill and original mill dam
were destroyed when Sunrise Highway was extended through the area in
1958, the church was moved in
1960. The river is tidal to about this point. It is a favorite
fishing pond and launch point for canoes, kayaks, and row boats.
The other picture is a Currier and Ives lithograph Catching
a Trout supposedly depicting Daniel Webster catching his famous trout in the same pond. An original of the lithograph is at
the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society.
A balanced view of the fish story may be found in
Nick Karas's book, Brook Trout, (New York: Lyons & Burford,
c1997) -- or at least as balanced a view as one is ever likely to get from
An 1847 description of trout fishing on the Carman's River, contributed by
Richard Thomas, may be found here.
|We're now back at the mouth
of the Carman's River at the Great South Bay as seen from the Manor
of St. George. We're on the east side of the River, on Mastic
Neck. Straight ahead is the Hamlet. The entrance to the river is
along the shoreline to the right.
If you click on the picture, you will be able to see the Brookhaven Town
landfill on the horizon; this Mount Trashmore has changed the
landscape of the south shore of Long Island. It's north of Sunrise
Highway, which, as far as Hamlet residents are concerned, makes it in
||This aerial view of the Carman's River
was taken by local resident Marty Van Lith while hanging onto the wing
of a 727 making it's approach to Islip-McArthur Airport. Squassux
Landing and the marina are about in the center of the picture. At
the very top is Sunrise Hwy. -- the lake being the remnants of the old
pond and now in South Haven County Park.
23 May 2012