BRIELLE — The Brielle Union Landing Historical Society [ULHS] is currently showcasing 22 archival historic fishing photos that have been donated to, and acquired by, the society over a number of years.
According to borough historian and president of ULHS, Jim Ham, Brielle was recognized as the “sports fishing capital of the world” during the 1940 and 1950s.
“Brielle has always had its face to the sea,” said Mr. Ham.
Initially, during the 1800s industrial era, the entire area of Brielle was covered in farms, where farmers would also double as ship captains.
Brielle acted as a port for southern Monmouth County which allowed produce, timber and other imports and exports to go in and out to North Jersey, New York City and Philadelphia, Mr. Ham told The Coast Star.
Successful coastal trading lasted until the late 1800s when the railroad was introduced as an easier, more efficient form of the transportation of goods across land.
“They built the Point Pleasant Canal…instead of going through the mouth of the Manasquan into the ocean, [the tide] went through the canal to the Barnegat Bay,” said Mr. Ham. “So the mouth of the Manasquan River silted up, and you couldn’t get out to the ocean anymore.”
In the 1930s, “a car was becoming much more popular, so this area was much more accessible just to the general people, rather than people who were just really rich, and that’s when the whole fishing thing exploded, in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s,” he said.
At the time, the river allowed easy access to and from the ocean, and the abundance of available fish was high, according to Mr. Ham.
Once the river opened, visitors combined the access to cars with the access to the ocean, which led to the heightened popularity of the new sport fishing industry.
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