The Strandbeests came to Crane Beach this morning, but the bigger news was the largest invasion of people the town of Ipswich has experienced in recent memory. Even though it was cool and cloudy, Deb and I anticipated a traffic backup on Argilla Road, so we took our bicycles.
Cars were backed up on Argilla Road by 9 am, and within an hour traffic was snarled all the way into Ipswich and Essex. Photo from the I Love Ipswich Facebook group by Kristin Smith.
The parking lot at Crane Beach filled up quickly. Photo by Deb Wysong
We made good time on the bicycles, and the gatekeepers at Crane Beach waved us in, no charge. Beach staff had foolishly moved the bicycle racks against the shed to make room for two more cars, which unfortunately eliminated parking for dozens of bicycles.
The beach was packed with people anticipating the big event!
The organizers were unable to get people to back away from the Strandbeests, which prevented them from moving very far.
Finally, the Strandbeests were able to move a short distance up and down the beach. The photo above is as close as we got, and for the most part, we couldn’t see anything. The video below was posted by Emily Rose Parent on the I Love Ipswich Facebook group.
What we saw:
We decided to “beat the crowd” and headed back on our bikes into Ipswich. Argilla Road was at a standstill. The Crane Beach lot was closed, and people were walking in from as far away as Russell Orchards. We detoured on a beautiful side road, the name of which I had better not mention. Photo of Argilla Road by David “Stoney” Stone
Back in town, we realized that all those people who couldn’t get to Crane Beach were now in downtown Ipswich looking for something to do. Hundreds had taken the train, but the buses to the beach were stuck in traffic. Ipswich at noon today looked perilously like a tourist town. We stopped at Zumi’s, and fortunately for us the out-of-towners were lined up on the wrong side, so we were able to quickly order a couple of delicious espressos before riding home. By 2 pm, Ipswich appeared to be back to “normal.”
Story of the Strandbeests:
What we anticipated:
The Ipswich Visitor Center - 1820 Hall-Haskell House sits at the heart of our town on the Center Green, in one of several national historic districts in town. The Crane Estate (1928) - Castle Neck and Crane Beach have a long history of ownership by several families before being granted by the Cranes to the Trustees of Reservations.
Strandbeest Invasion - The Strandbeests came to Crane Beach this morning, but the bigger news was the largest invasion of people the town of Ipswich has experienced in recent memory. Even though it was cool and cloudy, Deb and I anticipated a traffic backup on Argilla Road, so we took our bicycles. Finally, the […] The dunes at Castle Neck - Crane Beach and all of Castle Neck are protected by the Trustees of Reservations. Pitch pine and scrub oak rise from the masses of marsh grass, sage green hudsonia and dune lichen lining the trails that wind through the dunes. Crane Beach - Crane Beach belongs to the Trustees of Reservations and is part of the historic Crane Estate. The property includes Crane Castle, miles of shoreline, and over 5 miles of marked trails through the dunes at Castle Neck and Steep Hill Beach, open year-round. Choate Island and Rufus Choate - Choate Island was originally known as Hog Island, and is the largest island in the Crane Wildlife Refuge and is the site of the Choate family homestead, the Proctor Barn, the White Cottage, and the final resting place of Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Crane. There are great views from the island summit of the Castle Neck dunes and Plum Island Mount Agamenticus in Maine. The Fox Creek Canal - The Fox Creek Canal is the oldest man-made tidewater canal in the United States, dug in 1820. In 1938 it was dredged to accommodate ship-building at Robinson's Boatyard, where small minesweepers were constructed for World War II. Wreck of the Ada K. Damon - Christmas, 1909 witnessed the heaviest storm in many years. The ship was wrecked during the captain's first trip for a load of sand from the plentiful supply on Plum Island. Life in the Time of Greenheads - Situated in the epicenter of The Great Marsh, Ipswich is ground zero for the annual invasion of Town's Official Pest, Tabanus nigrovittatus, better known as the Greenhead Fly. In my opinion, which I am happy to share with you, the Latin name for this scourge lends it far more dignity than it deserves. The farm at Wigwam Hill - Symonds Epes bought a large tract in 1726 and built a substantial farm and orchards at Wigwam Hill, named for a group of destitute Indians who briefly camped there. The protecting pitch pines were later cut for lumber, and the farm became a large dune. The shipwrecks at Ipswich Bar - The Ipswich Bar has a long history of tragic shipwrecks. Its swift currents and shallow waters are especially dangerous during storms, and many ships have gone aground. The hull of the Ada K. Damon sits on Steep Hill Beach. The missing dunes at Castle Neck - The "Great Dune" at the end of Castle Neck has disappeared, the point is retreating, and the opening to Essex Bay between Castle Neck and Wingaersheek Beach has widened. The Ipswich lighthouse - In 1881, a 45-foot cast iron lighthouse was erected at Crane Beach, replacing an earlier structure. By 1913, the sand had shifted so much that the lighthouse was 1,090 feet from the high water mark. Use of the light was discontinued in 1932 and in 1939 the Coast Guard floated the entire lighthouse to Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. Wreck of the Edward S. Eveleth, October 1922 - In October 1922, the sand schooner Edward S. Eveleth rolled over when a wave rushed over her deck and pushed her onto the edge of Steep Hill Beach. Filled with sand, each tide buried her deeper. Her remains were visible for several years. The skeleton of the hull is just off-shore a short distance from the wreck of the Ada K. Damon. Charles Wendell Townsend, Ipswich naturalist - Charles Wendell Townsend, M.D. was attracted by the natural beauty of Ipswich. He built a summer house overlooking a wide expanse of salt marsh with open sea to the east. From here he wrote a number of books, including Beach Grass, Sand Dunes and Salt Marshes, and the Birds of Essex County.