Sunday, July 21, 2019

From Harbor of Shame to Harbor of Fame!

Dee with a nice striper!
CHV has had another great week! We continued our streak of catching striped bass with one caught by our very own JPA, Dee! We didn’t have a first period for fishing, so we all decided to try our luck with Dee being the only one to come up with a fish. Fishing club’s first trip with Captain Charlie on the Belle happened this week. Weather threatened to cancel the trip, but luckily it lessened enough to allow for some fishing! We stuck to calmer waters and landed a few skate. Other than that, it was business as usual at Camp Harborview!
            “Harbor of Shame”. This was the name given to Boston Harbor by many, including former President of the United States,George H.W. Bush. Boston Harbor was considered the dirtiest harbor in America, but due to a 30 yearlong cleanup effort, it is now one of the cleanest urban harbors in the US. 
            I’d like to focus on the harbor island I have been to the most and is the location of the state-of-the-art sewage treatment facility that keeps Boston Harbor clean; Deer Island. I don’t remember the first time I visited Deer Island, but it was probably with my dad and brothers on our way to fish an early tide for striped bass. This would usually involve stories of what had happened in the place we were about to cast our lines. 
            Deer Island has long history and my dad would start his stories with one of the Native Americans. In the Late 1600’s, a war between colonists and Native Americans occurred, called the King Phillip’s War. During this war, hundreds of Native Americans were removed from their homes and were interned on Deer Island. The island did not have very many resources and provided harsh living conditions for those on the island. Many of those forced to live there succumbed to starvation, disease, and exposure to the elements. It is not a bright moment in Deer Island’s past, but it is one that deserves remembering. 
            He would jump forward over a hundred years to mention the islands involvement with Irish immigrationin the 19thcentury. During the famine in Ireland, many Irish fled the country and ended up in Boston. Deer Island served as a hospital that was often a first stop for these immigrants. They would be treated here before entering the city. 
            With both of my grandfathers serving in World War II and my paternal grandmother a war bride from France, my father would describe the island’s involvement in the war as well. Deer Island was part of Boston’s harbor defense along with some of the other Boston Harbor Islands. During WWII, there was a real fear of German U-boats entering our domestic waters so coastal defenses were set up throughout the US. Boston set up many defenses around its harbor to help intercept any enemies that may threaten US citizens at home. These defenses included lookouts, forts, and gun batteries. 
            My dad would then talk about the prison that was there. He would usually just talk about how he knew someone who had a pass onto the grounds and would fish there when the prison was still active. The House of Corrections on Deer Island stood for nearly 100 years, being established in the late 1800’s, later being moved in 1991. The prisoners held here served short sentences up to 2.5 years, and thousands of people would have been held on Deer Island over the years. 
            He would end with the story about Deer Island that most of us are familiar with, the sewage treatment facility. Pointing our heads towards the massive egg-shaped structures that call the island home, my dad would tell the tale of a harbor so dirty that it was once regarded as a “Harbor of Shame”. He would explain that back in the day sewage would be “barely treated” before being dumped into the harbor. Bottom dwelling fish would often be caught with visible tumors, and some would claim you would need a tetanus shot after jumping into the harbor. However, a great clean-up effort starting in the 1980’s was determined to change this. One of the most important aspects of this clean-up was the construction of the MWRA wastewater treatment facility on Deer Island. These “eggs” are digestors that help to thoroughly treat sewage from the Greater Boston area. Once treated, the solids are made into pellets for fertilizer and the effluent is pumped 9.5 miles out into the Massachusetts Bay. Deer Island stands as a symbol of pride and redemption for the people of the Boston and it helps us enjoy the beautiful environmental resources we have at our disposal.
A lobsterman checks traps in front of Deer Island
            This week at CHV we are looking forward to enjoying the harbor, while having great views of Deer Island. Everyone is excited for our next fishing trip on Wednesday, which I know is going to be a good one!

Tight Lines!

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