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Maurice River Recollections Project
River Reaches
Debra A. Barsotti
Research Journalist
Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River
and Its Tributaries, Inc.

The Maurice River Reaches Project - River Recollections
The NJ State Police Marine Patrol
On Location

Today's technologies enable boaters, fishermen, and the patrols of the marine police to easily locate a point on the river. But even in this age of global positioning satellites (GPS) and computerized maps, attaching a name on a place makes it both immediately recognizable and familiar. Attaching a name to a place is like writing in short-hand.

NJ State Troopers Stanley Symanski and David Boudine, from the Marine Police Station in Bivalve said that they use some of the Maurice River reach names to refer to the positions of the river markers or buoys. Some of the reach names are even noted on the navigation chart they use when they're out on the Maurice River. The troopers explained that the names are not used for anything dramatic. "We put the reach names on the maps so that we know where the buoys are supposed to be. That way if they go off station, we can drag them back," said Trooper Boudine.

They gave examples:
The buoy at Bricksboro is always "off-station" - every full moon high-tide it goes off station.
A new buoy was recently added to the Jaw Bone.
The buoys are numbered.
Bouys are positioned at Owl's Cove, the Granary, the Artesian Well,  and Twin Reaches.

The marine police refer to the point at the Burcham Farm as Twin Reaches, the troopers said. "If you're standing at the point, and you look out on the river, the reaches in both directions look identical. They're just as wide and just as long. One goes just this side of the Burcham farm, one goes toward the other side." The troopers mentioned that there's a sign on a house at Buckshutem Road that also says Twin Reaches.

There's nothing "official" about the names the troopers use for the reaches of the Maurice River. Many have been passed down from trooper to trooper over the years. "Some of the names I think we even created over the years," said Trooper Symanski.

The marine police do not attach a name to every one of the 49 reaches on the Maurice River. Some of the names that they do use indicate what is known about a feature on the spot, like the Artesian Well Reach. Some of the names the troopers use today are based on what is visible on the shore now, the "land markers.” For instance, the troopers refer to the reach at the end of Fralinger Road as Red Barn, while in the tradition of local fishermen Red Barn Reach is south of Millville, just beyond where the Lower Works of Whitall Tatum once stood. Trooper Symanski is not familiar with the reach names between the Spillway and the Jaw Bone, he said.   Troopers use some of the commonly used designations to pinpoint some of the upper reaches. They frequently refer to the municipal dock, Silverton's, Fowser Road Ramp and another commercial establishments to mark their location, Trooper Symanski said.

From Bivalve, the marine police cruise up the Maurice River to Millville. The bridge at Route 49 limits how far the patrol boat can travel, but on occasion when the tide is low, they can go all the way to the Spillway. Union Lake is part of their jurisdiction, but they have to launch another boat from lakeside to monitor those waters.

Some other interesting tidbits the troopers shared:

  • Reaches are also referred to by the names of the marinas and towns that have been established on their shores.
  • There are no buoys below the Mauricetown Bridge.
  • Trooper Symanski pointed out  the Dorchester Cut, a straight run just south of the bridge on the west side of the Maurice River. "That saves a lot of time, " he said.
  • The troopers still refer to Cook's Meadow.
  • The patrols also use the disappearing Fowler's Island, but for how much longer is anybody's guess.
  • They are familiar with some of the long-standing names that have been known for generations: Peak of the Moon, Basket Flats, East Point and Northwest Reach, “which actually goes north-west, if you're looking at the compass," Trooper Symanski.

Where did these timeless names come from? What did the shores look like when they were banked in? Who can tell the stories of the Maurice River?

Patrolling the Maurice River today is different than it was even 10 years ago, said Trooper Symanski. It's certainly a different world from the days of long ago.