Nature vs Man: Plum Island, Massachusetts

Posted on Mar 23, 2014 in Blog, Case Studies

Plum Island, Massachusetts is an island located off the northeast coast of Massachusetts, north of Cape Ann. It is a barrier island approximately 11 miles (18 km) in length. The island is named for the wild beach plum shrubs that grow on its dunes. The island is located in parts of four municipalities in Essex County.

Plum Island is accessed by one road running from Newburyport to the north of the island on a causeway and drawbridge over the Plum Island River. A charter to build the road between Rolfe’s Lane (Ocean Avenue) and the island was granted in 1806 to the Plum Island Turnpike and Bridge Corporation. The road remained a private one until in 1905 the General Court required Essex County to lay it out as a county road, compensating its then owners with a cash settlement.[9]

Plum Island Drive runs along the inland side of the island. In the north it is lined with homes. In the refuge it is paved for about half its distance and is a dusty dirt road for the remainder. Along it are numbered parking lots with boardwalks leading to the beach, overlooks and trails, and facilities for the maintenance of the refuge.