The Quogue Wildlife Refuge is a 305-acre expanse of protected land, with more than seven miles of trails that include a variety of habitats such as Pine Barrens, bogs, wetlands, a field, and a tidal estuary. Its mission is to serve as a responsible land steward of the Refuge property and its natural resources, while promoting, implementing and supporting environmental education. — Quogue Wildlife Refuge.
Brief History of Quogue Wildlife Refuge
In April 1934, a handful of local people, alarmed by the decimation of waterfowl in this area, met to take action. The population of these water birds had been declining since the early 1900s, due to human development of their habitats and unusually severe winters. In October 1934, the Southampton Township Waterfowl Association (STWA) was established.
The present location, formerly the Quogue Ice Company, was chosen for being naturally frequented by waterfowl. Work began with keeping the ponds open from ice, and providing feed for the birds. Activity grew to include attracting migratory birds, developing resident population and propagation. In 1936, the STWA was awarded First Prize in a National Waterfowl Contest for the vast amount of work accomplished through volunteer efforts. Today the 305 acre preserve, now known as the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, provides sanctuary and habitat for local wildlife. — Plaque on site.
Archival Photo: Ice House of the Quogue Ice Company, established 1913. The Ice Company constructed an earthen dam parallel to Quantock Creek to create the 10-acre Ice Pond. Archival photograph courtesy of the Quogue Wildlife Refuge.
Quogue Ice Company in Operation, 1913. Painting by Karin H. Strong.
This scene, based on old photographs, depicts the activity, around 1913, of harvesting and storing ice from the pond. In the foreground, men are cutting ice and moving it toward the far shore. There the ice is carried by a conveyor driven by a steam engine. The conveyor moved the ice into the large building in the mural, which has since been removed from the site — its concrete footings can still be seen on the perimeter of Ice Pond.
At the turn of the century, a rapidly expanding population of summer boarders in Quogue led to a greater demand for ice, and to the formation of the Quogue Ice Company. The Ice Company was first located on the eastern shore of upper Quantuck Creek. The waters of the creek were dammed to allow a greater depth, and ice was harvested and stored at that site until 1914. By that time, the water had become brackish, and the Ice Company was no longer permitted to dam the creek. It was decided to move the facility to a new site north of the railroad track. The headwaters of Quantuck Creek were dammed at a point called “Fairy Dell,” and a pond was dredged to a depth of five to seven feet, thus creating what is known today as the Old Ice Pond. The Ice Company resumed operation at this location.
In the late 1920s when artificial refrigeration came into being, the demand for natural ice diminished, and the Ice Company went out of business. The Southampton Township Wildfowl Association bought the land, and the Wildlife Refuge was founded in 1934.
— Painting & plaques on site.
The Refuge trails and Outdoor Wildlife Complex are open every day from sunrise to sunset. The Charles Banks Belt Nature Center has posted hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Charles Banks Belt Nature Center, 1970, Ice Pond, Quogue Wildlife Refuge. Esther Baird, designer.
AAQ / Landmark: Quogue Wildlife Refuge: Fairy Dell Boardwalk
Photographs, except archival, copyright Jeff Heatley.