Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Demise of Gwynn's Island: Conclusion

This is a shot from the Sea Breeze, located on what is currently known as Gwynn's Island but which any day now could become an underwater cafe in Milford Haven based on what we've read the past several days.

Below is the conclusion to Mathews Mountain Man's (MMM's) piece.

Gwynn’s Island: The Final Chapter
Scenarios III & IV
by Mathews Mountain Man

There are a couple of other strange scenarios that I should have sense enough not to just have to share with you. In the beginning of this incessant rambling essay it was stated that Gwynn’s Island may disappear into a giant sink hole that is in the early stages of development at the intersection of Old Ferry Road and North and South Bay Haven.

That’s right; you read it here first, although I’ve already said that it wasn’t my idea.

This proposition is not as strange as it seems. Sinkholes develop in many ways, commonly forming in swamps or areas where “standing” or stagnant water is often found. Florida is littered with swamps and sinkholes; and, topographically Florida and Gwynn’s Island have a lot in common. Too bad the winter weather’s not the same.

Anyway, my expert source, who, I assure you, believes in the validity of his own ideas, has observed that rainwater on Gwynn’s Island tends to collect around the post office, a central location that is at the corner of Old Ferry Road and the respective Bay Haven’s. If you need to see this for yourself, take a trip to Gwynn’s Island after a heavy rain. My source argues that this is the beginning of a sinkhole. Who’s to say he’s wrong?

So, as the sands of Gwynn’s Island sift through some unseen hourglass my eternally optimistic source, and first-order relative, will take his stand square in the middle of the intersection next to the post office. He will wait, and wait, and wait, until he is sucked through the earth’s core with the last grain of Gwynn’s Island, only to appear on the other side of the world standing atop a beautiful mountain. If that happens, I think I’d like to go with him.

I will relate the final story as it was told to me, but I make no claims regarding its authenticity, unless, of course, you choose to believe it.

The final scenario by which Gwynn’s Island may be “lost” (this has nothing to do with a Darma time machine) is based on a little know $1,300,000 study conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1966, a well known scientist named Buddy Rowge, hypothesized that, due to the expansion properties of freezing water, every time Milford Haven freezes the Island is pushed farther away from the mainland. He further hypothesized that based on average annual freeze-thaw cycles the Island was moving away from the mainland by a ½ inch each year. Given that the expansion allowance engineered into the Gwynn’s Island Bridge was 4 inches, Rowge’s hypotheses were troubling. It was feared that if the Island moves beyond the 4 inch allowance someone will open the bridge and not be able to close it.

Three years after Rowge proposed his thesis, the Mathews County Board of Supervisors asked the Coast Guard to conduct a study. After an exhaustive series of pre-freeze and post-thaw measurements, taken at ebb-tide and flood-tide, during waxing- and waning-moons, and a host of multivariate analyses of covariance accompanied by Newman-Keuls pair-wise comparisons, the U. S. government produced a 1600 page pork chop dooly verifying that every time Milford Haven froze over, Gwynn’s Island was pushed away from the mainland. The average annual rate of separation, however, was slightly higher than Rowge estimated.

After the initial panic, a minor real estate boom and three months of heated debate in closed meetings of the Board of Supervisors, Rowge’s twelve year old daughter came forward with a solution. “Just leave the bridge closed whenever Milford Haven freezes over,” she said.

“But, how do you know that will work,” asked one of the supervisors.

“It says so in the report.”

“Where?” asked the supervisor.

“On page 1526,” she replied.

Little Miss Rowge was an instant hero. She was given a key to the court house, free hot-dogs and fries for a year at a local diner and was awarded a full scholarship to the regional community college. And, to this day, when Milford Haven freezes over, the bridge remains closed, unless, of course, a boat needs to pass through.

Okay, so the idea that Gwynn’s Island is going to be pushed away from the mainland by ice is a wee bit of a stretch, but it is slowly disappearing. If it happens fast, it’s every woman for herself (I know who reads this blog). Sell if you can, but you better look, with haste, for an alternative habitat. If it happens slowly, that’s a different story. Only those who hang around the Island for a few years at a time will see it happening.

Talk about opportunity; a clever real estate agent might sell the same property ten times before it succumbs to the elements, all-the-while pointing to the ever expanding marshland surrounding the house as a “hard to find” feature. By the time the new property owner catches on to the long term threat to his or her investment, another prospective buyer is all up in a lather looking for place to show off their new found wealth. Gwynn’s Island = waterfront property = CA-CHING...

(Insert profound statement here).


Chesapeake Bay Woman's Excruciating Compulsion to Add Commentary Remarks

Currently, the only thing between Queens Creek (where I live) and the bay is Gwynn's Island, which plays a strong zone defense against oncoming nor' easters and provides a great buffer between horrific winds and death heavy storm damage.

If the island is moving farther away from the mainland, perhaps the day is nigh when I will live bayfront instead of merely creekfront. With no island to buffer us, the first nor'easter that comes through we'll all be toast blown like tumbleweeds into the state of West Virginia.

Thanks, Mathews Mountain Man, for contributing and giving my reader me a much-needed break.

If anyone else with any ties to Mathews would like to contribute, please oh please oh please oh please oh please send me your stuff and I'll be crying tears of joy very happy to post it.

Stay tuned for Three Ring Thing Thursday, headed your way real soon.

As in Thursday.


Grandma J said...

So is Gwynn's Island shrinking or getting pushed towards the South of Portugal?

I can't wait to check out the water puddle in front of the post office come July.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

Fantastically interesting. I love stuff like this. Guest writers are always fun - not that we don't love you, CBW - in fact, I'm jonesin' a little bit - but MMM is an entertaining writer. Thanks for sharing that.

I'll still be bringing my wellies, just in case.

Anonymous said...

And so the sad transition is complete. The demise of Gwynn’s Island is but a metaphor for the demise of the would-be writer - MMM. As you may have surmised from scenarios #3 and #4, he has reached blog-bottom.

There was more that he might have written. Take scenario #7, for example, whereby Farmer Foster put too much guano in his garden and the Island began to sink under the weight of giant pumpkins, melons and lopes. As the water gurgled up around the post-office, a man, dreaming of wonders on the far side of the world, a man well known to the locals and loved by all, pinched his nose with one hand and held his other above his head, counting down with his fingers… 5, 4, 3…; and a woman standing on a distant shore called out, “Gustav… Gustav…”; but Gustav paid no mind while he feasted on nature’s bounty and aimlessly swam away as the Island disappeared in the mist.

Yes, all good things must come to an end; but, fret not, for if you recall, Michener implied that the “detritus” deposited in one place will later be deposited elsewhere – what is an end, is but a new beginning…

No my friends, you won’t have to read such dribble any longer. The wise and wonderful CBW had the good sense to put an end to it. She called for help and MMM is now in a 12-step program that promises to induce permanent writer’s block. As he was wheeled away, he called out, “Farewell fellow bloggers, farewell.”

big hair envy said...

All of this talk of demise has made me thirsty. Anyone want to meet me at the Sea Breeze for a drink?? :)

TSannie said...

I am now totally verklempt. Totally! Tell Gwynn to wait to disappear until after blogfest this summer. I'd really like to see her!

TSannie said...

Going to go meet BHE at the Sea Breeze now.

Mental P Mama said...

Soooo would your property appreciate because of the new views? Would MMM please come over and write some posts for me? Thanks.

Caution Flag said...

I was also thinking that if you could hold your house together maybe with some extra duct tape (they make it in 30 colors, you know), that your property would eventually appreciate with the sinking/drifting away of Gwynn's. Now why did it take me FOUR tries to type Gwynn's. They should have named it Jones.

Anonymous said...

Always love a good story that gets the imagination why couldn't we devise a similar plan to get California to move further away from the rest of the country? Maybe as an island all by itself? :)


Anonymous said...

Of course the bridge would remain closed when Milford Haven was frozen over! Who ever heard of an ice-breaker coming through the Narrows?

Enough with the global warming! I just moved down from the high-lands, and I suspect a sinkhole may be forming in my front pasture....



Daryl said...

WOW .. that was almost as long as The English Patient or Benjamin Button ...

foolery said...


You'll be back, because you can't help yourself, and because you have fans -- FANS! -- who will demand it. And because CBW needs you once in a while so that, instead of blogging, she can pass out in the kudzu with her feet against the shed, if she's really really tired.

Loved the series, MMM -- thanks, CBW!

See ya, Indiana! [thumbs her nose from California as it drifts toward Guam]

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

OK. This is it and I mean business, so pay attention.

Mathews Mountain Man?

Send coffee beans.


And thanks for contributing, really. I really needed a blog vacation, not that it will do my blog writing any good, mind you.

Now back to those coffee beans....

Annie said...

no coffee beans, no 12.01am posting!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Annie - this is what happens when I take a blog vacation. Today's post was all written up and ready to go by 10 p.m. last night. Then I watched some television and forgot to publish it, even though I was still awake at 12:01 a.m! Thank you for keeping me straight.

joe blow said...

Change is our friend. It is the only constant in Life.

Is the glass half empty or half full?

Adapt and overcome, this is an opportunity!

As our native Marine hero stated:

"Their in front of us, their behind us, their to the left and right of us, there's no way they can get away now!"

Chesty Puller

Erika Brown said...

First of all, I came across your blog before searching about topics related to Gwynn's Island and I love it! Great job...I'm glad someone out there is passionate about Mathews and loves to tell the world about it!

I'm a real estate agent and during my adventure with door-to-door marketing on Gwynn's Island (yes, I am the cookie lady!), I met a homeowner with a HUGE sinkhole in her driveway. She just bought the home and warned us to be very careful while backing out. I looked, and she was right, our car was right on top of it! It wasn't quite the width of our tires (small car-civic)...but it was large enough that had we proceeded to back out as usual our car would have taken a dive into her driveway! The sinkhole was angled in such a way that we did not see it when driving in (kind of like an overhanging cliff)...but walking back from her front door I saw a massive crater in the ground!

She told us that the previous homeowners never spoke of any problems and they had filled it several times with tree stumps, gravel, concrete, etc. Everything seems to nowhere...leaving the same hole, but sometimes larger! They continuously dump solid objects into this driveway hole and it never fills! They live on Gwynnsville Rd, about a half mile or less from Old Ferry Rd.

SO, when we found your struck me! Not so far there is already evidence of minor sinkholes forming! I felt sorry for her but did not mention that I wondered if others may appear on her property. She was so excited about her move from Hampton and the positive effects on the kids schoolwork that I would rather have solid evidence before glooming someones day.

What do you think??? Coincidence? Or just the beginning....has anyone else seen small sinkholes? 1 foot wide or larger?

And yes, if you would like to sell I am ready to list your home!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Erika, I was a neighbor (two lanes down) of your father's growing up, and we graduated MHS together! SMall world.

The friend of mine who wrote this currently lives in Harrisonburg but still has family on the island. Your father knows the family well. I am sure they'd be happy to talk bout not just sinkholes but island history in general.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Anonymous said...

I know its been years since this blog came out, but I am seriously interested in moving my family here. This article doesn't have me second guessing but has got me curious. Any more issues with the island that has come up in the last 3 years?

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Hi, I'm not aware of anything out of the ordinary happening. No matter where you are in Mathews there will always be the occasional flooding during bad storms, high tides, etc. But I'd still rather be here than anywhere. Thanks for reading/commenting!