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Essex Coastline

Plum Island (North) Old Point
I returned along the Plum Island Turnpike toward Newburyport and then turned south on the 1A. My goal was to explore the coastline region where Innsmouth was supposed to be located, but unfortunately there were only a couple of hours of daylight left. 
River Front St.

I stopped by Parker River at a region suggestively labeled "Newbury Old Town" on the map. It turned out to be a sprinkling of fairly modern riverside residences, though River Front St. does afford a view of a memorably miasmal pond.

1A to Rowley and Ipswitch

I proceeded south of Parker River, where the Shadow narrator states:

Out the window I could see the blue water and the sandy line of Plum Island, and we presently drew very near the beach as our narrow road veered off from the main highway to Rowley and Ipswich.

Today, there is no road following the coast any more closely than the 1A (the road to Rowley and Ipswich), which is too far inland to afford any view of Plum Island. Such a road, if it existed, would take you through the heart of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, which is marked on my topographic map as a region of marshland with dense networks of streams. I drove coastward a short distance on the suggestively named Marsh Avenue, but it doesn't carry you very far. The other side streets that lead from the 1A into the marshes are also marked as dead ends on the map, and unfortunately I hadn't the time to explore them.

Argilla Road

I proceeded south through Rowley and Ipswich and eventually followed Argilla Road out to the Crane Beach park at Castle Neck. Unfortunately, the beach was just closing as I arrived, but Argilla Road itself is noteworthy for passing through some of the type of marshy country that Lovecraft describes:

[A] landscape of sand, sedge-grass, and stunted shrubbery [that] became more and more desolate as we proceeded . . . Now and then we crossed crude wooden bridges over tidal creeks that wound far inland and promoted the general isolation of the region.

Coastal Marshes

This locale with its long stretches of yellow marsh-grass divided by gurgling creeks, and distant tree-lined hills, is certainly an appropriate place to hide a sinister seaport like Innsmouth.

Tidal Creeks

Incidentally, everyplace I visited in Essex County seemed to have the same sandy soil that I first noticed in Boston, and the same lack of lushness or vigor in the grass. It's kind of surprising that the whole place hasn't blown away by now.

The sun was setting by this point, so I headed back to my motel in Danvers for the night.

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Copyright 1997, 2004 by Joseph Morales