A Bridge Across Georgica Pond

Georgica Pond has always been a cherished resource. Access to its water and the right to fish, crab and enjoy Georgica Pond has been contested for centuries.

Back in 1833 The East Hampton Town Trustees sued several gentlemen from Southampton for “drawing a seine in Georgica Cove.” The men were in violation of an 1813 ordinance which allowed all East Hampton townsmen to draw seines without prosecution by “Southampton men or owners of land bordering the pond.”

An 1873 Atlas of Long Island clearly shows a bridge crossing Georgica Pond. This was the Burnt Point Bridge which spanned from the end of Briar Patch Road in East Hampton Village to Burnt Point in Wainscott.
Atlas of Long Island. Beers. 1873.
The Burnt Point Bridge and another proposal to build a road from West End Road in East Hampton Village across the gut to Wainscott were the subjects of many debates, letters to the editor, town meetings and even a fight to the Supreme Court.

The Burnt Point bridge at 1,000 feet long did not last long. According to a letter in the East Hampton Star,

In the year 1869, or thereabouts, the inhabitants of Wainscott talked up a bridge road across Georgica pond, purchased land on the west side of the pond for the road from the east end of Wainscott street to a point connecting with the proposed bridge of Jonathan Osborne and paid him $110, They also bought land of Sineus C. M. Talmage to connect the proposed bridge with the road leading to East Hampton and paid him $260. The bridge was built and maintained for some time by the bridge company, the money, material and labor being furnished voluntarily. The bridge road became the travelled highway from East Hampton to Bridgehampton for nearly a year and it was then offered to the town free of charge. One of the road commissioners was in favor of accepting the same and two were opposed. As time went on it so happened that Wm. H.S. Wood purchased land on the west side of the pond, through which this road passes and of course, claimed the road. Would it not be well for us to find out if property which we have bought and justly belongs to us, can be taken away, simply because it is wanted.

In the 1902 Atlas of Suffolk County, the Burnt Point Bridge is gone. However, the idea of a bridge spanning Georgica Pond did not go away entirely. In 1904 at a meeting of the East Hampton Board of Trade, a Mr. J.O. Hopping of Wainscott “offered the suggestion that in building a road to connect with Southampton’s good roads, the route through Wainscott be chosen instead of the one through the woods, his idea being to bridge Georgica Pond. An informal ballot was taken on that point and the sense of the meeting was unanimous for the Georgica Pond route.” It never happened.

Atlas of Suffolk County. E. Belcher Hyde. 1902.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can say today that it is fortunate that the bridge across Georgica Pond either at Burnt Point or the Gut were failed battles. Today the pond has remarkably few incursions from infrastructure so that its natural shape and flow is maintained. We at Friends of Georgica Pond, like it that way.

Special thanks to Gina Piastruck, Head of the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection for her invaluable assistance.