Couple strolling on Crane BeachCastle Neck

Socially isolated at Crane Beach, Easter weekend 2020

The Crane Estate has been closed by the Trustees because of COVID-19, but Crane Beach, Steep Hill Beach and Castle Neck are open to residents of Ipswich with a Crane Beach sticker Friday through Sunday. This was a beautiful weekend for Deb and me to take a couple of strolls on the beach.

Castle Neck, showing the marked dune trails. The yellow trail into the dunes is no longer accessible from Crane Beach but can still be entered from the opposite side of Castle Neck.

Saturday

Layers of sand exposed in a dune

Layers of sand are exposed by recent erosion in the dune wall along the beach, April 11, 2020

The tree monster crawling up onto Crane Beach. Photo by Deb Wysong

A tree monster crawling up onto Crane Beach. Photo by Deb Wysong

Gordon Harris, photo by Deb Wysong

Gordon Harris, photo by Deb Wysong. In the distance is a wind turbine in Gloucester.

Purple sand at Crane Beach.

The purple sand at Crane Beach is from White Mountain garnet that enters the ocean at the Merrimack River. Erosion from the wind leaves a thin layer of garnet sand on top of the other sand. Photo by Deb Wysong

Choate Island

Choate Island comes into view across Essex Bay as you reach the tip of Crane Beach and begin your return along the Castle Neck River. Photo by Deb Wysong

Our six-mile Saturday walk started at the Crane Beach Ipswich residents parking lot. We headed south with the wind at our backs to keep the sand out of our eyes, and returned on the marked yellow, blue, red and green trails through the dunes. On Sunday we walked from the parking lot along Crane and Steep Hill Beaches to the mouth of Fox Creek.

Sunday

Crane Beach Ipswich

After driving to Crane Beach on Easter morning, this time we headed left toward Steep Hill.

Ada K. Damon, Ipswich

The Ada K. Damon was high and dry at low tide

The Ada K. Damon

The Ada K. Damon and Little Neck. Photo by Maureen Smith

Ada K. Damon

The ribs of the Ada K. Damon and what appears to be a block of mixed steel slag and stone ballast.

ada-damon-april-2020-maureen-smith

The Ada K. Damon is more exposed than ever. Photo by Maureen Smith

ada-k-damon-4-12-2020

The Ada K. Damon sitting on Steep Hill beach at low tide.

steep-hill-beach-breakwater

This breakwater, built by Richard Crane was exposed and accessible because of the low tide, creating several small warm pools of water.

Dune entrance at Steep Hill Beach.

This dune entrance from Steep Hill Beach leads to the Cedar Point Trail. Little Neck is on the opposite side of the river.

Fox Creek Ipswich

The mouth of Fox Creek

Fox Creek beach

The beach at Fox Creek is covered with thousands of stones and tiny snails

Steep Hill Beach

Starting our 1.8 mile return from Fox Creek along Steep Hill Beach.

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.
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.
The Ada K. Damon, April 2020 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.
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.
Nautical map of Crane 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.
Benjamin Ellsworth at the Ipswich Lighthouse 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.
Fox Creek Canal marker on Argilla Road 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.
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.
Strandbeests at Crane Beach 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 […]
Couple strolling on Crane Beach Socially isolated at Crane Beach, Easter weekend 2020 - The Crane Estate has been closed by the Trustees because of Covid-19, but Crane Beach, Steep Hill Beach and Castle Neck are open to residents of Ipswich with a Crane Beach sticker Friday - Sunday.
The Ipswich Dunes, photo by Sharon Scarlata Photos of the dunes late on a winter afternoon - See more photos by Sharon Scarlata.
Two dunes and Crane Beach Photos from Crane Beach and Castle Neck - After weeks of rain and a record-breaking cold spell, this was a beautiful day for a hike at Castle Neck, returning along Crane Beach.
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.
Crane Beach, with dunes in the background 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.
Charles Wendell Townsend, Ipswich naturalist - Born in Boston, November 10, 1859, Charles Wendell Townsend, M.D. was attracted by the natural beauty of Ipswich. He built a summer house on a ridge overlooking a wide expanse of salt marsh with open sea to the east. From here he wrote a number of books, including […]
Trails in the dunes at Castle Neck in Ipswich A walk in the Dunes - 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.

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