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Sherwood Mill Pond And Island: The Hidden Culverts

Generations of Westporters know John Kantor from his decades owning and running Longshore Sailing School.

But he’s comfortable near any body of water. He lives on Grove Point Road, bordering Sherwood Mill Pond. John writes:

Whenever there is a big coastal flood due to a hurricane, tropical storm or nor’easter, Grove Point residents talk about shutting the flood gates at Old Mill to keep the seawater out of our neighborhood. They believe that it is where floodwaters come from.

It is not entirely true.

The Mill Pond is not a closed system whose seawater level is controlled exclusively by the tide gates at Old Mill.

Did you know that you could paddle a canoe or kayak, non-stop from Grove Point to Greens Farms Academy?  And, under certain conditions, even to the Greens Farms post office?

Sherwood Mill Pond, Sherwood Island State Park and environs. Grove Point is at left, off Hillspoint Road. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

You can. You just need to pass through 3 culverts. But watch your head. Some have low clearance.

And if you turn to starboard in the marsh channel at Burying Hill Beach, you could paddle straight into Long Island Sound. It is an independent seawater connection to the Mill Pond – a Mill Pond back door.

You can kayak all the way from Sherwood Mill Pond to Burying Hill Beach (shown above).

To prove it, the other day I took a walkabout.

I went to the Sherwood Island State Park “Mission Control” office on the Connector, and got permission to slog around in the wetlands. I wanted to see the culvert that I knew existed, which connects the Mill Pond to the wetlands north of the state park. I wanted photos to bring back as proof.

I took many shots from every possible angle, from the pond on our side all the way to the New Creek wetlands alongside Greens Farms Academy.

The culvert from Sherwood Mill Pond to Sherwood Island State Park …

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection officers assured me that the tidal flow, ebb and flood, to and from the pond, goes both ways in the culvert on a daily basis.

The cast concrete box culvert is sizable. Actually there are 2, separated by a common concrete wall. Each is wide enough for two canoes to pass through side by side.

… and the view from the park, looking west to the Mill Pond.

The culverts have no control gates. Water passes through freely on all tides. Tidal surge seawater can enter the pond through them in substantial volume regardless of whether or not the gates at Old Mill are open or shut.

Sherwood Island really is an island. It is surrounded by water on all sides. It just doesn’t appear that way. because the big double culverts are hidden from view beneath the Sherwood Island Connector. You drive over them whenever you enter the State Park.

New Creek culverts by Beachside Avenue, further east. (Photos/John Kantor)

Fun Fact: There is a significant delay in the tide change in the Sherwood marsh system, relative to the Sound. I witnessed a rising tide level on the state park beach side of the Burying Hill breakwater, while the ebbing current was still flowing (at a good clip) out of the Sherwood wetlands on the other side of the breakwater — just a few feet apart!

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