NJ Marsh L- Unveiling the Past
A black and white image on a winter's day of a small section of the Mill Creek Marsh in the N.J. Meadowlands at low tide. It tells a story of the ecological history of the lands from the young, scrubby trees in the top third of the freame, evidence of how few trees now grow there in the brackish marshland. In the middle, salt marsh reeds that are prevelent now and in the foreground, the stumps of trees that tell of the history of the land. Back when the part of northeast New Jersey, known today as the N.J. Meadowlands, was primarily inhabited by Native Americans and Dutch settlers were just beginning to arrive, a huge area of the marshland was covered by lush forests thick with Atlantic White Cedar trees.The trees are slow growing and many were ancient even then. As the settlers began to clear the land for their farms, they soon discovered that the soft wood from the trees was pliable and rot resistent, perfect for roads, boats, roofing, carving and many other uses. It wasn't long before the dual goals of creating farm land and profit from the wood determined the demise of the forests. As history lore goes, large swaths of the forests were cut down or burned down because pirates who plied the local rivers used the forests to hide in. As of the mid-1700s most of the cedar trees were gone and the entire area was farmland and meadows (hence the name Meadowlands.) But now, hundreds of years later, the history of the trees can still be seen at low tide when the base of the trunks and roots of the trees are exposed.