Lavallette author unearths history of barrier island

Lavallette resident and Ocean County Historical Society President Brian Bovasso has just published a book on the history of our coverage area. He is photographed at a stone marker recognizing the Cranberry Inlet. It's located in Seaside Heights on a grassy peninsula at the intersection of Bay Boulevard and Carteret Avenue, opposite American Legion Post 351. PHOTO BY MARK R. SULLIVAN

LAVALLETTE — Lavallette resident Brian Bovasso, a former UPS manager turned local historian and author, has just released his latest work: a 153-page book researched and written in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, titled “Ortley Beach and the Cranberry Inlet.”

Until now, Ortley Beach  –  a barrier island community located within Toms River  –  has lacked a past and an identity, according to Mr. Bovasso, who lives on Bryn Mawr Avenue with wife Carmie and college-age daughters Lydia and Adamaris.

“When I was doing research for West Point Island and Westmont Shores, I kept coming across a lot of information about Ortley Beach and the Cranberry Inlet,” Mr. Bovasso told The Ocean Star, referring to the subject matter of his two previous books. “I realized very quickly that nothing had ever been written about it.”


Mr. Bovasso seeks to change that status quo in “Ortley Beach and the Cranberry Inlet,” which begins in earnest during the colonial period and concludes after Superstorm Sandy. Stops along the way include chapters on the Ortley family, St. Elisabeth’s Chapel-by-the-Sea, Barnacle Bill’s arcade and more. However, Mr. Bovasso admits to having a soft spot for the history of Cranberry Inlet, which formed sometime in the mid-1700s and disappeared 60 years later, one of countless geographical features created and destroyed by an ever-changing coastal landscape.

This is an excerpt of the print article. For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.

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