Jamestown Historical Society

Library Exhibit March 2017: Salt Marsh

The Great Creek and the salt marshes on either side of it separate the north end of Conanicut Island from the village. In 1950, the Jamestown Garden Club recognized the value of the marshes to the environmental health of the island and initiated a project to save them.

At a meeting of in August 1950, the club members decided – at the suggestion of Helen Marshall Eliason, chair of the club’s Committee on Public Relations – that the club’s project for the coming year would be to purchase the “Conanicut Salt Meadow” along the Great Creek east of North Road and give it to the town to be held in perpetuity as a wildlife preserve.

The price of the 271⁄2 acres of marsh was $750. The Jamestown Garden Club allocated $400 toward the purchase. An early contribution from the recently formed Quononoquot Garden Club gave both financial and moral support. Townspeople pitched in generously. By mid-January 1951, $1,337 had been collected. After the purchase of the property, the remaining funds were put aside for the purchase of surrounding land as it became available.

The voters accepted the transfer of the marsh at the Financial Town Meeting on May 7, 1952.

The garden club followed up its successful drive to save the salt marsh with a statement of purpose that incorporated its aims. “This is not nature tailored to a park but a wild area to be kept in its own pattern with no intrusion of foreign material. We hope that the native American scene will be preserved through these small windows opening on a past which is rapidly disappearing and will remind Americans of the undisturbed beauty of their land as their forefathers knew it.”

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