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The Dumplings

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Fort Wetherill and the next several destinations occupy the southeast corner of Conanicut Island. Topographically it is similar to the southwest corner, but with a difference in the way in which the heaving ledge landscape presents itself. The difference accounts for the designation of this area as the Dumplings. The bluff of Ocean Highlands so dominates its corner of the island as seemingly to incorporate the turbulence of its terrain into itself. Not so, however, for the Dumplings. Its basic terrain slopes rapidly down to sheltered coves along the East Channel. The rude upheavals continue, but here more as isolated ledge and knob formations thrown up from the lower slope and thereby appearing as conspicuous and singular landscape elements. The knobs even extend out into the water to make a mini-archipelago off shore, like dumplings rising from soup or gravy. It was one of the larger knobs on Conanicut that accommodated Fort Dumpling, an outlook during the Revolutionary War first for the Americans, then for the British after their occupation of Newport.

Today the ledges and knobs provide roosts for solitary cottages similar to the mostly unobtrusively luxurious examples of shingle types seen in Ocean Highlands, while below smaller versions cluster around the coves, with boatyards and moorings tucked into the scalloped shoreline. Eagles in their aeries above, shore birds below: the tumble of the topography gives this area its unique identity.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.

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