Rockland Breakwater Underwater During 1931 Storm
In recent years it is not unusual to see the south end of the Rockland Breakwater submerged during astronomical high tides or at high tide during big storms. These riveting scenes could be related to climate change or the ongoing settling of the granite structure itself – maybe a combination of both.
Regardless, the occurrences do seem to be happening more often, and in the process, are not as “newsworthy” as they once were – though they are no less concerning when considering a number of factors.
This phenomenon made big headlines in the 1931 Rockland Courier-Gazette. The newspaper’s March 5, 1931 edition published a front page story entitled, “The Winter’s Record Storm.” Part of the story’s subheading stated, “High Tide Engulfs Breakwater…”
After talking a bit about the storm, the news article stated, “The highest tide in 22 years wrought great damage all along the New England coast and from the standpoint of the spectacular was something nobody should have missed seeing.”
In regards to local waters, the story noted, “The present generation never saw so much water in Rockland Harbor before, and owners of shore front privileges never want to see so much again. The peak of the tide was reached at 11 a.m., but fully two hours before that most of the wharves were afloat and the army of sea gulls had moved inland far beyond their usual haunts.
Later, the story went on to say, “Rockland’s million-dollar breakwater temporarily disappeared from view, and a Courier-Gazette reporter who ploughed through the drifts at Bay Point saw solid water atop of the big granite barrier.
“William Lockhart, assistant keeper of the Breakwater Light, told the reporter that the water over the southern end of the breakwater was one and one-half feet deep, and surf was constantly breaking over the deck of the building (boathouse). Nobody especially envied the occupants of Uncle Sam’s little house out in the harbor, but there was nothing in Mr. Lockhart’s tone to indicate that he was seriously disturbed while the tide and storm were at their height. The rise of the tide there was 11 feet, as compared with 7 to 8 feet under normal circumstances.”
Pat Thompson says
This made me think: I never thought about what to do if a big tide covered the breakwater and I had walked part way. My daughter and I and her children walked out this way on a day that it snowed, We never realized the temperature either until we got back. The sun was shining directly so that helped. My mother grew up in Friendship, but we never knew about the breakwater. My aunt also lived at Owl’s Head. A nice guy at Tradewinds saw me on the steps with my granddaughter doing school and told us about the lighthouse. We were watching a light in the sky. I live in Virginia, and I doubt I will ever get to walk the breakwater again, but I am glad I have and enjoyed it. I was determined to get to the end. I have had 2 hip replacements and 2 wrecks that have affected my walking.