“This teardrop from the eye of God.”

Three Mile Harbor is a historically significant part of East Hampton. Prehistoric Native American Indian artifacts dating back to about 4000 B.C. have been identified on numerous sites around the harbor, with one Paleo-Indian site from around 8000 B.C. found to the west of the harbor.

While the harbor itself is 2.3 miles long, its name refers to the distance from the head of the harbor to the center of the villages of East Hampton and Amagansett.

Sylvia Mendelman’s authoritative 2003 pictorial book Three Mile Harbor: East Hampton’s Priceless Gem is both a history of and homage to what she describes as “this teardrop from the eye of God.”

“Three Mile Harbor’s sheltered shores had abundant clams, mussels, periwinkles, whelks, scallops, oysters, and eels. The Indians benefited from the abundance of fish and shellfish not only for food, but also from the shells which were made into wampum. The manufacture of wampum as a medium of exchange was one of Long Island’s major industries.

“In winter, the Montauketts chose campsites near Three Mile Harbor, where they fished and hunted, and enjoyed the sheltered shores with fresh water bubbling up out of the ground. The Indians would hollow out a log and place it over a spring, creating a cistern for fresh water for their horses and cows as well as for personal use. Springy Banks Road takes its name from this natural phenomenon. There is an old dirt trail that paralleled the western shoreline, called “Indian Highway,” where Hampton Waters Development is now.”

Many of the photographs in Gliding were taken during the golden hour as the sun set over the forked waters of Hands Creek on the western shore of the Harbor. Sylvia Mendelman’s book recounts that Indians called this location Ashawagh, meaning “a place in between.” The camp was about an acre in size. Town records mention the name Ashawagh from 1866.

Adjacent to Hands Creek, named after John Hand, an original 1648 settler in East Hampton, is Dominy Point, where the Dominys cut wood for their cabinetry for clocks and furniture for customers throughout Long Island and the Northeast. New York State has designated East Hampton as a ‘Scenic Area of Statewide Significance,’ describing Three Mile Harbour as “unique in the region as a large, well-preserved 900-acre salt pond and barrier beach system with a historic harbor. It is highly accessible and is managed as parkland, conservation land, waterfront parks and beaches, working harbor and private recreation island.”

This Three Mile Harbor is my bike path, I have been up and down and across and zig-zagged every part of this beautiful harbor. Journalist and television host David Frost used to land in a pontooned helicopter when he came to stay and party at Hampton Waters. My water bike is sedate by comparison, but we travel into the very same path of light.

Thomas Moran (1837-1926) was the first American painter to capture the grandeur of Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. In 1871 he joined the Hayden expedition, the first to survey the Yellowstone region in detail. Moran’s images of dramatic canyons, hot springs, and geysers captured the imagination of the American public and helped bring about Yellowstone’s designation as America’s first national park. Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum Thomas Moran lived in East Hampton from 1878 until he died in 1926. This 1888 painting by Moran Three Mile Harbor is held by the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Philistines at the Hedgerows by Steven Gaines is a mesmerizing feat of storytelling-a book that takes us behind the privet hedges and rolling sand dunes and brings vivid life to the curious passions and personalities that animate the Hamptons.

Little Brown and Company, New York, 1999

Sylvia Mendelson’s beautifully illustrated Three Mile Harbor includes the early history of East Hampton, its settlers, Indian heritage, pirates, rum-runners, Art Colony, fishing, boating, industry, local lore and recipies, making this a unique and captivating book.

Seacoast Publishing, East Hampton, 2003