Sunday, April 28, 2013

Port Townsend

This beach lies at the edge of the shipyard at the west end of Boat Haven marina.  It's the jumping off place for the Larry Scott trial, which follows the old railroad grade along the bluffs and past the paper mill, before heading up the hill to the west.

This stretch of shoreline was once a barrier beach, separating Kah Tai Lagoon from Port Townsend Bay. Now it's the main road into town, a large marina and boat yard, and a lot of commercial real estate.  There used to be a curved railroad trestle extending offshore to a barge dock, but the last portions were removed a few years ago and the small riprapped headland in these shots was where the trestle began.


The beach was once continuous along the northern shore of the bay, with longshore transport generally to the north and east.  Sediment derived from bluffs in the vicinity of Old Fort Townsend would have passed here on its way towards Point Hudson and eventually to Point Wilson.  In some communities, historical development completely obliterated the foreshore, but here in Port Townsend the old wharves and and made land simply broke the shoreline into a complex series of pocket beaches.  They are still neat beaches - and wonderful opportunities - they're just not part of a larger system the way they once were.

What caught my eye was the contrast between the two adjacent beaches.  The longer sandier beach on the east and the small, coarse gravel beach tucked up against the promontory.  Is there some process keeping these beaches segregated and different - perhaps different responses to waves from differing directions? Or is this a historical artifact, just waiting for time to blend these beaches into a single curve?  Maybe the beach is still responding to the change in wave regime that accompanied the removal of the old rail trestle.

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