I first heard of Shell Pile and Bivalve, two old oystering towns, the way most folks do, through Henry Charlton Beck’s classic book Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey. While many of the towns in that book are long gone, Shell Pile and Bivalve (along with Port Norris) hang in there. Despite diseases that have nearly wiped out the oyster population (twice), one factory and a handful of boats still hang on. And, of course, there are still gigantic piles of shells, same as there were in the 1930s. I hadn’t been there in five or six years. What sent me back? Well, I drove by this the other day…
… and Millville is fairly close to Shell Pile and The Pres had never been and Spring Break is almost over, so why not?
The place has changed a little bit, more of it is run down by the year, and more marinas are closed, but the Bayshore Discovery Center has some nice digs, even if the Meerwald was in Philly for the month. So, a brief (but in no way thorough) tour:
A seriously awesome part of Shell Pile and Bivalve is that the Library of Congress has about 50 pictures between the two hamlets taken by Arthur Rothstein in 1938. It’s a little window in time on the two towns that today have only about 50 people between them, but were booming at the time. I’ll post a few here, you’re welcome to use the Library of Congress’s online picture search to find the rest.
Great place to go visit and explore. Try to pair it up with a visit to the Bayshore Discovery Center, a sail on the AJ Meerwald, or a hike or bike ride on the nearby nature trail (with nice views of the salt marshes).